Those who live nobly, even if in their life they live obscurely, need not fear that they will have lived in vain. Something radiates from their lives, some light that shows the way to their friends, their neighbors, perhaps to long future ages. ~Bertrand Russell
Our world is a complex and difficult place. The process of change at a political, global level seems painfully slow. While, as individuals, we can embrace and extol the virtues of a peaceful world—one characterized by integrity at every level—that is not the reality in the world at large.
How we wish we had the power to tilt the axis of our world so we became aligned in a much more benevolent direction. Like siblings watching one of their own being reprimanded or punished, we cringe in the awareness of what some of our sisters and brothers must endure on this troubled planet. We may even experience a kind of “survivor’s guilt” for living in comfort and safety while so many suffer. Any contribution we could make might seem small and ineffectual.
Even if we are not in positions of power and influence, we can still make a difference. Beyond supporting causes that assist those who are struggling, we can make a difference simply in the way we live our daily lives. Each of our own personal worlds is a microcosm of the larger world. Within this microcosm, we have profound influence.
How do we “govern” our personal worlds? Are we fair, compassionate and conciliatory, or are we aggressive, judgmental and argumentative? Do those who share our world feel blessed or cursed by our presence? Do we bring joy and harmony, or do we bring stress and struggle into the lives of others? Do we treat all others as our equals, or do we regard ourselves as somehow superior to others?
In any world there are bound to be differences in opinion, and times when others act differently than we would like. Do we set up a round of “peace talks” to iron out the difficulties, or do we drop the anger bomb? Do we continue to love and respect those with whom we have differences, or do we draw a line between us, and think of them as “the enemy?”
Do we share some of our resources with those less fortunate, or do we hoard them, loading up on luxury items? Do we give of our time, to help others in need, or are we constantly “too busy” with our own personal agendas?
How we “govern” our own world impacts, and is reflected in the macrocosm. When we operate from our “higher selves” it is as though we are “enlightening” our world. We bring brightness to our little part of the world. The more light there is, the less room there is for darkness. When we live nobly, that tends to inspire others to do the same. Every time we perform a noble act, it raises the lowest common denominator of human behavior just a little. The entire human/global complex benefits.
Even if our acts of kindness and compassion are tiny, and unobserved except for the recipient, they are still gifts to our world. Never underestimate the significance of brining joy to one heart, or alleviating the burden of one soul. Millions suffer in our world, but those millions are made up of individuals. Every individual is significant, and no noble act is insignificant.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca