[The following, posted in reply to a classmate within my online university, is the best, condensed statement of my personal philosophy that I think I’ve ever managed. Placing it here for reference and historical value to myself. – Ed.]
It is a statement of many things to say that on a day to day, average basis, our society and culture is not one that supports or nourishes “the long view” in much of anything. It is terrifically difficult at times to achieve because it requires something that the flood of information often blunts/stunts and buries — an interest in taking time to really think about what we CAN do rather than allow the various litanies of how hopeless or messed up things are to convince us that anything we might consider is moot or lacking in worthiness.
I can say without hesitation that waiting for someone else who is “supposed to” do something is simply not an effective means to see much of anything accomplished. Yes, it would be a wonderful, beautiful thing if people did everything to the fullness of their capacity and were always, actively thinking critically about what they do, how they spend their time/life/energy, and careful contemplating how they might do so more effectively, efficiently, et al. The level of effort required for such perspective is daunting when one looks at it from the “outside”; it very frequently looks like Everest; insurmountable and impossible. Who wouldn’t be discouraged or dejected by it?
But as the old sages have said and as we all know from personal experience, a brief look backwards can very easily show us the many “Everests” that we have personally surmounted and overcome in life; readily demonstrating that not only is it NOT impossible, we do it all the time simply by continuing to live and move forward.
This is no different than any other “Everest”: Paths are still made by walking and just because we haven’t walked them before doesn’t mean we cannot navigate them fully and successfully. Many times, the hardest part of any movement is overcoming the inertia of doubt, fear, or fear of failure and, in the grand scheme of things, every one of these are products of our mind, not reality.
There are things we can easily do every day that, over time, will make a difference. Add to this, there are things we can do that will ripple outward; by the simple act of doing them, others observe and are affected and some of them will do them, too. Even a pebble dropped in the ocean has a ripple that will eventually reach the shore. Just because we cannot always see the ripples that result from our actions is no reason to assume or conclude they do not exist, do not matter, or do not make a difference.
But the first step is always deciding to do more than think or speak. People say the first step is to act, but this is incorrect. “Being” is doing. Nothing ever happens without action. You are as capable of action as I or anyone else who draws breath. Start with the small things that are easily in reach. We all have them. Identify them. Decide what to do with them. Then, do it. Reward yourself for the doing. Take pride and pleasure in it; it is a measure of your personal power within this world and life and you deserve that.
It is a heady and happy cycle to engage and I encourage everyone to give it a try. We should never have to look back and say “why didn’t I listen”… and we never have to except that but that we allow it to happen.
As Gandhi once said, “Be the change.” 🙂