Wednesday, 08 May 2013

You can’t change the world

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I don’t mean to be a downer, but you can’t. Let’s start with the Maths. There’s 6 billion people in the world. Assuming you live to 70, you’ll be on this earth for 2 billion seconds. So that’s changing 3 lives every second (assuming you don’t sleep).

Then putting the Maths to one side, how about the fact that not everyone wants you to change the world your way. People have their own ideas, dreams and ambitions – many are probably keen to change things in the opposite way to you.

I suspect most of us know that ‘changing the world’ is a rather ridiculous aspiration. And yet, we seem to persist with trying to inspire our youth to do just this. We ask them to join campaigns, sign petitions, and dream of a transformed world.

Most of us know this is a bit misleading but where’s the harm?

What if it is harmful? What if by setting such a lofty impossible goal we actually disempower young people. We make them more cynical. And less able to change the things they really can affect, to make a difference much more locally.

And by locally, I mean really locally. Not across their town or city or even their street – more local than that. I mean, in their relationships, in their day to day interactions with other people. For here we can all make a change. By being kind, and generous and honest. By forgiving when wronged, by standing up for the weak or unpopular, by putting others first.

A lot of this language has come to seem old fashioned. Well – if we care about bringing people together and building community – we need to bring it back. For this is the language of relationships, and relationships are what make communities work.

More than that, this is the language of empowerment. For I may not be able to change the world, but I can choose to be kind and generous and forgiving. And in doing so I will build better relationships which will I bring others closer together … which (whisper it) might just start to change the world a very little bit.

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