It’s not just the big dramas caused by governments, wars and revolutions that can change the world. Seemingly small things can have consequences we are not aware of.
One of my favourite songs is “Today I’m Gonna Try and Change The World” from Johnny Reid. Take a couple of minutes to listen to it:
We can never know the ripple effect of our actions. Greeting our neighbour with a smile. Taking the time to talk to a stranger. Little acts of kindness that can change our world and theirs. And we will never know how far-reaching our influence may be.
William George Jordan says in “The Majesty of Calmness”:
The only responsibility that a man cannot evade in this life is the one he thinks of least,–his personal influence. Man’s conscious influence … is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,–is tremendous. Every moment of life he is changing to a degree the life of the whole world. Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. So silent and unconsciously is this influence working, that man may forget that it exists.
And Gandhi told us: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
Start small. One day at a time. And today I’m gonna try and change the world.
Driving into town yesterday morning, I’m sitting at a red light watching the cars crossing in front of me. And it reminded me of Sylvia in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:”
“It was all those people in the cars coming the other way,” she says. “The first one looked so sad. And then the next one looked exactly the same way, and then the next one and the next one, they were all the same.” . . . “It’s just that they looked so lost,” she says. “Like they were all dead. Like a funeral procession.” –Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig
“Like they were all dead.” Like they were robots. That’s the ones I could see. Many were behind tinted windows so I couldn’t see in the car at all.
And every one of them had their window up! Each in his or her own little cocoon and cut off from the outside world. No wonder they looked so sad.
Next time you’re driving, try this.
I like driving with my window down. Sure, I get all the traffic noise and sometimes I smell the fumes from other cars. But I’m more aware of what’s going on around me. I feel a part of it. I’m a player not just a spectator.
And if a driver eases back so I can change lanes, I can put my hand out the window and thank him. Makes us both feel better.
I liked the old cars that had a quarter pane on the front window. You could turn it around and have the wind blowing on your face. It made you realise why dogs are always smiling when they have their head out the window.
Try it sometime. Maybe you’ll feel half as happy as a dog with the wind in his face.