wanting to make a better world

I can't heal the world. The ruined forests, broken hearts, dark and limping cultures. I can't fix anything no matter how much I protest or write or wave a placard. This knowledge makes me feel helpless and sad.

But it occurs to me that maybe what I need to do is reconsider my idea of "the world." Instead of seeing it as the entire planet, maybe I should instead focus on the part of it that lies between my hands and before my heart.




Each time my phone rings, or someone steps up to me with a question, or I share a public space with other people, I have the opportunity to create a world around me. I can choose for that world to be comfortable, warm, inviting, safe. Or I can fill it with thorns so that other people walk away hurting.

I know that sounds ineffectual against logging in the Amazon and fracking in the mountains. But I also know how one person's simple kindness towards me can make a real difference to how I behave for hours or days afterwards, and I'm certain there's a natural ripple effect. (Conversely, one person being unkind, judgmental, callous, can leave me despairing about all people. Because don't you agree that it's easy to equate one stranger with Everyone? Especially when they hurt you.)

A gentle word, a smile, a tiny bit of consideration, truly can uplift another person, give them courage, and warm their heart so that they smile at someone else ... put a coin in a donation bucket ... take a moment to really think a decision through ... feel hope for the future ... I've seen it happen, had it happen to me.

I've also seen how hateful speech from one person can drag people down and cast darkness over an entire nation.




But I need to use more than just words and actions to create a beautiful world around me. I must also consider how I dress, how I walk, how I speak, the way I treat public space. If I don't care about what I'm wearing, how can I manifest a beautiful spirit of atmosphere? If I bombast my way along the street, what am I telling other people about their worth to co-exist peacefully in the place we share? If I use brutal language, arrogant laughter, a superior tone, how will I create the peace I wish to see in the wider world? And if my humour is vicious, how can I expect other people to be gentle with trees, animals, waterways, or me?





This little space around me is my own bit of world. I want to try every day to make it a reflection of how I'd like the whole world to be.* And maybe if enough of us did that in our own ways, we'd shift the balance.

And maybe if we answered hate speech with love ... if we sang beauty to drown out cruel rhetoric ... if we listened to pain instead of trying to out-scream vituperation ... if we held forth our own little, lovely worlds instead of smashing the walled-up, worried, hurting worlds of frightened people - well, I don't know if it would work to bring peace. But it's surely got to be better than mirroring a world we don't actually want.


* I want to try. I'm not saying I always, or even often, get it right.

15 comments:

  1. Such lovely thoughts, and sad too. I've often been thinking this. I think you're right, that what we can do is to be kind to others, and create beauty around us. To focus on what kind of world we truly do want. Thank you sarah.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It takes but one, then there will be two. I'm a hopeless optimist, a dreamer perhaps, but I believe in the good in people, it does exist.
    Your posts are so beautiful, so thoughtful and thought provoking.
    I'm so glad I found you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wise thoughts Sarah, and I agree, though I don't always live up to what I believe. I am oversensitive to other people's words and actions and often it is a long while before I realise I have slipped into a world I don't want to be in. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yours is the only blog I've read through these long, dark, winter days. I blogged today, for the first time in months, mentioning your blog - you may see an increase in your readership :)
    Thank you for shining a gentle light in the darkness x

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is truly one of the most beautiful blog posts that I've ever read. Thank you for your words. They give me hope. xo

    ~ Wendy
    http://Crickleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  6. i could not agree more! all we really control is our own belief and behavior, and making those a force for good, for peaceful interaction, can't help but make our own lives and the lives of those we encounter feel better. and i do believe in the ripple effect...

    i'd like to live in the world that you would create---the current one is not very genteel, or kindly, or peaceful, most of the time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you everyone, your kind and thoughtful comments all mean so much to me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is just what I needed to read today. It is noble, lovely, beautiful, and kind. I want to try, too. ♥

    ReplyDelete
  9. It DOES work, Sarah. We don't have to struggle to make THE world better - we just have to try to make OUR world better, and in the trying comes the results - one smile at a time.

    ReplyDelete
  10. it is at our local food pantry, where i work, that everything in "my world" is put in perspective. a smile, a handshake, a thank you, a look, a tear or two…this is where i'm humbled and truly know that i am helping…that i am making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  11. So true - everything we do has a small ripple effect on the world around us. Gorgeous photos!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is the first time I have ever been moved to comment. Ever. On any blog. As I look out on this beautiful morning I see a tiny robin, and gentle shadows on the crumbling wall. Yes, nature and life can be wild, chaotic, unpredictable and downright scary at times, but if we look we can see the healing balm right in front of us. For where else are we, or can we ever be, but right here... and I agree it's how we intereact with what's before us that matters: it's all we've got after all. Lovely blog, thankyou.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for your lovely words. I am so very pleased you wrote. <3

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you everyone for your comments, they mean a lot to me and I'm glad, and surprised, at how people liked this little post that I felt was inarticulate and clumsy. I appreciate so much your thoughtfulness in writing.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Each time my phone rings, or someone steps up to me with a question, or I share a public space with other people, I have the opportunity to create a world around me. I can choose for that world to be comfortable, warm, inviting, safe. Or I can fill it with thorns so that other people walk away hurting."

    I just love these thoughts :) Thank you for this post. x

    ReplyDelete