Not once, not twice but three times in one day I felt a nudge to do something. Not that I don’t often feel such an urge but this day things were different. I was feeling the urge to do something about that which I have felt so helpless. How could I prevent mass killings in mosques half way round the world? What could I possibly do to combat climate change? Thinking that I am only one person who doesn’t have much to give, I had been reminded these three times that one person can make a difference.
First thing in the morning (around nine a.m. now that I am retired) I heard young people talking about climate change and how they hope to have a world in which to live when they are adults. Some of them participate in a “strike” from school on Fridays hoping to raise awareness about the need for something to be done now, not down the road. (Personally, I support this initiative, but wonder if it might have just as much an impact if held on a Saturday – assuming they get media coverage.) The point is that they want to make a difference now and they are doing something.
The next thing that happened to me was that I attended a funeral. There was a great deal of talk about the deceased and how this one person had affected so many lives. Not waiting to be told what to do or even how to do it, the deceased had gone about making a difference wherever they lived. At first, some of the ways seemed small and seemingly insignificant, while others I could only dream of doing. It didn’t seem to matter the deceased person gave it all, big or small. One person showing kindness, speaking up for the voiceless, and making a difference.
The third experience came to me as I read Robert Fulghum’s, Maybe (Maybe Not). He tells the story of Vedra Smailovic, a cellist from Sarajevo who played for twenty-two days outside a bombed out bakery where twenty-two people had been killed. Fulghum wrote: “there is little he can do about hate and war – it has been going on in Sarajevo for centuries. Even so, every day for twenty-two days he has braved sniper and artillery fire to play…”
He did what he could. The story was told and has been retold again and again. Maybe this is your first time hearing it. Regardless if it is or not, it reminded me again that one person can make a difference.
Somehow, I felt encouraged and inspired. Yet I wonder what can I do? I am old enough to vote, unlike the young people mentioned above who don’t even have that right. Voting may not seem like much, and I am not sure that there is much to vote for (I know I am being cynical). I suppose I can pick up trash during my walks (some individuals or groups do that now), but does it really make a difference? How can I make a difference?
I can only control me and my words, my thought and my actions, and that is a great place to start.