Many people are feeling emotionally overwhelmed by today’s uncertain social and political realities.
They feel powerless about their ability to make a difference. I recall experiencing a similar despair in the 1960s. I have vivid memories of the school bell ringing three times to alert us to drop beneath our desks in case of an atomic bomb attack. Coupled with the war in Viet Nam and the absence of civil rights for a large segment of our population, there seemed to be little reason to have hope for the future. Still, we found ways to motivate ourselves to socially and politically engage.
There has actually never been a time in modern human history without conflict, injustice and suffering. There has also never been a time without compassion, resistance and relief. There has been and perhaps will always be the potential for both darkness and enlightenment. The world will always reflect this dichotomy and the resulting tension.
The fact there are over seven billion people in the world can make us feel insignificant. What do we matter and how can we possibly make a difference? But, each of us is unique. There is no other person exactly like us in the entire universe! There is no other Mike Lisagor and no other you anywhere. We each get to create our own story unlike anyone else’s. The only question we need to answer is how can we be our best possible selves?
Buddhist scholar Daisaku Ikeda has said, “When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation — a change of our hearts and minds. This is human revolution. We all have the power to change. When we realize this truth, we can bring forth that power anywhere, anytime, and in any situation.”
Each of us still has the ability to impact the world in significant ways. After all, if a flapping butterfly wing can cause major changes on the other side of the world, surely our efforts for peace and justice, however seemingly insignificant, can counter the fundamental darkness we have all been experiencing.
I believe that the best course of action is to pursue a path of inner change and to manifest the resulting compassion and wisdom as action towards peace in the world around us. How we engage with each person we come in contact with is important. In our own unique way, we can and must make a difference.