Our world needs us. Hurricanes are tearing apart entire cities and islands. Earthquakes are killing too many people. There are high rates of crime that only seem to continue to increase. We have leaders who don’t respect the people who need our help the most. Threats of nuclear war continue to appear. Even vehicles, which were once symbols of freedom and limitless opportunities, are now used as weapons. Our people are also burdened by hunger, poverty, thirst, homelessness, lack of medical treatment, discrimination, and countless other obstacles. In the midst of such huge catastrophes, it is easy to lose hope and be afraid. However, somewhere along the way, our need for personal security has turned more into selfishness than anything else. America First? How can we justify that other people don’t deserve the same opportunities as us, simply because they come from a different race, or a different country, or a different religion?
There is only one race – the human race.
So much of the pain and suffering is out of our control, which sometimes seems to make it even more difficult to deal with. We simply cannot stop a hurricane in its tracks, nor change the minds of our world’s leaders. After each tragedy, it seems like we can’t do much more than checking the news constantly and watching the death tolls rise. Throughout my time here in Ecuador, I have sometimes felt useless reading about everything going on in recent events. I have wondered why I don’t have the power to help people struggling around the world, or to help those who are in my own city.
In these moments, I remember why I decided to join Peace Corps. While I would love to change the world drastically (who wouldn’t?), I gave up my life in the United States to come here so that I would have more opportunities to make simple, almost insignificant changes. I came here to bring about change piece by piece. In today’s world, I think it is important for us to remember that even the smallest acts of kindness can bring about change. Even if my projects do not turn out exactly how I would like, I know that every day I am impacting the lives of many students. I also know that in the future, they will go on to continue the trend and change the world themselves.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
In order to make the world a better place, we don’t have to make all of the horrible parts disappear. We just need to be supportive of one another.
So, smile at the person walking by you. Have a genuine conversation with the cashier, waiter, waitress, or customer service representative (and actually mean it). Don’t roll your eyes at the person who cuts you off on your way to work. Be patient with children; they usually don’t know any better. Share a meal with someone and also share a conversation. Feed a stray animal. Recycle everything you can. Don’t judge someone who looks different than you. Carpool if possible. Never go to bed angry, or upset, or worried. Appreciate the nature around you. Pray. Meditate. Help someone out secretly. Write your senators or congressman to protest unfair laws. Donate stuff you don’t use or clothes you don’t wear. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Walk instead of taking the bus. Ask someone how they are doing. Lend a listening ear to whoever needs it. Donate money to relief funds. Remind people that you are there for them and that you love them. Don’t put yourself, or your skin color, or your country, or any other characteristic first. Put humanity first.
Note: Results may vary. Change is not always visible.