“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy
How many of us want to live in a world where people are kinder? More empathetic? More patient? More connected?
Odds are, all of us do. Odds also are, MOST of us are waiting for somebody else to make the changes necessary in society for that to happen.
There is an old story about people in an apartment building who are witnessing a crime being committed. Everyone is looking out their window thinking that one of their neighbors will call the police.
But since everyone is waiting for someone else to call…nobody does, and the robber gets away.
There are many less extreme examples like this in life every day. Perhaps you don’t smile at the barista because they didn’t smile at you. Maybe you don’t let someone go in front of you in traffic, not considering why they might be in such a hurry.
These may seem like small examples, but life is simply a collection of small examples.
Every day – no – every moment we have a choice about how we show up in the world. How patient, kind, and understanding will WE be? What information will WE choose to absorb today? What will WE choose to stand up for as a matter of principles?
Not your friend, or neighbor, or colleague. You.
All societal change starts with one single person who does something differently. Someone who decides that things can, and should, be better. Someone who commits to being better themselves and therefore inspires those around them to raise their own standards as well.
But if nobody decides to be the first to step up, the robber will get away. Only this time, it’s not with a purse or a wallet.
It’s with irreplaceable time, or peace, or love. It’s with opportunity or freedom or kindness.
The robbery committed by the apathy of good people is not something that can be reversed or replaced, it is something that we must proactively prevent by deciding to step up to an even higher level ourselves.
Learn a new skill, listen to an audiobook instead of music, skip that last piece of pizza, hold the door for the stranger behind you.
Small acts, when consistently practiced, add up into something that may create real change.
One single person may not be able to change the world, but if enough of us work on changing ourselves from within, the world will change as a result.
We’ll do our part, if you do yours.