I've often heard the phrase, “Think Globally, Act Locally”. I read the phrase recently again, and this time, I felt differently about it. To be honest, I've never given the phrase much thought. I've never “thought globally”, whatever that means.
The world is a big place, and I have enough trouble keeping up with my tiny corner of it, let alone concerning myself with global affairs. I once had aspirations that I could change the world. A much younger me looked at the world through my lens of self-importance and thought that I could make a difference.
Then real life set in, I had kids, a husband, work. Lots of things to bring my attention to a more realistic level. Somewhere along the way, I lost my idealism and my desire to change the world. I focused instead on getting through life, growing my kids into responsible, loving people, and just surviving. For many years, I didn't think about the world, accept to acknowledge the suffering and hurting happening all around me.
And one day I woke up. I realized that I can change my world. And you can change your world. And together, along with everyone else, we can change the world. Changing the world doesn't happen in one event, unless you're talking about an epic flood or earth shattering meteorite.
Changing the world happens through the daily devotion of common people, like you and me. Changing the world happens when each one of us decides that we can have a positive impact on people exactly where we are today.
Mother Teresa served the world, one person at a time. She said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” We can only change one person, that is ourselves. We can only serve, we can only extend love and forgiveness, we can only be kind to those who are right here, right now.
But understand, that in the realm of possibilities, extending kindness to one person today is enough to change the world. Being forgiving of someone's faults or shortcomings, or errors or unkindness is enough to change the world. You will change the world within yourself. You will influence their world.
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect describes a series of circumstances by which a small change in one place results in large differences to a later state, such as the occurrence of a hurricane being contingent on the flapping of a butterfly's wings in some distant location several weeks before.
Although the butterfly effect may seem esoteric and unlikely, such behavior is exhibited daily. A golf ball may roll down a slight incline directly into the hole, or in a completely different direction, depending on any number of factors. And the result of the golf ball missing the hole can set off a completely different set of events than if the ball had rolled into the hole.
It is the same with our lives. A simple act of kindness, a smile extended to an unhappy stranger, a gentle word spoken in a moment of anger, these all have the effect of a butterfly flapping its wings. Whose to say what effect your kindness will have on someone down the road today, tomorrow, or next week?
Even if your smile is met with a scowl, or your kindness met with sarcasm you have still changed the world. You have changed yourself with your kindness. You have released positive energy into the vast reaches of the universe, and it will come back to bless you. Aesop, of Aesop's fables said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.”
You can change the world. You can change your world. And as you gently work to change your immediate surroundings, you might discover that your whole world has changed. As you extend the gifts of kindness and compassion, you will find others returning your gift. Your life will be filled with people who are kind, forgiving and compassionate.
The Dali Lama said, “My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” I'm not asking you to change your religion. I am challenging you to change your world, with your kindness.