In our culture there is a strong narrative that we are helpless to effect change. The problems of the world seem so large and we as individuals seem so small in comparison. But what is the result of thinking this way? We don’t even try. We give up. We stop caring and drift into apathy and indifference.
What might be an alternative way of thinking about the control and influence we have in the world?
The following too stories challenge the assumptions that we are powerless.
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realise there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one.”
In the Indian tradition human consciousness is understood to be like a vast ocean. This ocean is, in part, muddied and darkened by the fear, anger, greed and ignorance that cloud our lives. Whatever is dropped into this ocean creates waves that ripple out forever diminishing in size but never disappearing. Our task and the choice we must make in our lives is what we will drop into this ocean. We can drop gifts of awareness, wisdom, goodness, love, generosity, peace, and care – or their opposites. Our little gifts ripple out through the great ocean of human consciousness forever, boundless in their influence and effect.
What reaction do you have to each of these stories? What thoughts and feelings come up? Does it alter how you view your ability to create change? Does it inspire you in any way?
All of our choices and actions have an impact on the world. Often that impact is invisible so we don’t notice it. But what we do matters. Every thing makes a difference at some level.
How might this change the way you live? Does this idea motivate you to do something different?