On Saturday Evening, May 5th Let’s spend part of an evening considering how we might make a better world following each others ideas and learning from those who have pondered and acted directly themselves and have provided suggestions. The Spring Be Well Gathering:
- To Make the World a Better Place, Think Small by Arthur Brooks
- How to Make the World a Better Place by Steven Stosney
- Regular People who Changed the World and How You Can Too in National Geographic
- How to Make the World a Better Place by Pulitzer Prize winner and Oregonian Nicolas Kristof
- If I Look at the Mass I will Never Act: Psychic Numbing and Genocide by Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon
Before one of my recent classes there was a passionate discussion about politics. Lots of heated commentary about one of the recent spates of national political turmoil. I usually don’t comment on politics or such distracting topics during class but I did chime in.
The atmosphere was heavy with difficult and heavy emotion. In response to my suggestion to consider pointing difficult emotions and energy about the world toward some constructive, person-to-person act of kindness or contribution, one of my students became agitated and said that such things won’t help at all and are useless in the face of mean-spirited powerful people and organizations.
I always appreciate and accept students’ comments and work diligently to create an atmosphere that is open to the honesty of the moment. That said, I fully disagree with that student and I believe what I said was misunderstood; we affect the world with each of our actions and most powerfully so in direct contact with others and often in very simple and direct ways. This can point passion and anger through us in a useful and helpful way and can effect the world in ways we can’t predict; large and small. Rather than be numbed and give up or react with anger and violence, lean in and act toward the one nearby. Mother Teresa wrote about this “If I Look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
This has been referred to as the Butterfly Effect and has grown to be recognized as a physical phenomena in weather systems and nature. Many consider is so in society as well. I know that very direct and earnest acts of contribution, whether offering a kind word or an act of tough love, are the way to make a difference in the world and to move our frustrated energy in a helpful and unexpectedly powerful directions. Even those who make a positive difference seeming to act on the world stage (i.e. Martin Luther King, Helen Keller, those who award the Nobel prize each year, so many more) who seem to change the world mostly act directly, earnestly, and simply with those around them to make a difference.
Hope to see you here! Please RSVP to assure there is enough room for all! Kind Regards — Brant