Do your little bit of good where you are;
it’s those little bits of good put together
that overwhelm the world. ~Desmond Tutu
These are trying times, times during which we can’t help but feel helpless. There seems to be so little we can do in the face of the violence of war, armed fanatics, zealots who behead and stone, troubled kids with guns, or deadly diseases. A single 24-hour period recently included a killing in Canada, law enforcement officers being shot point-blank, other officers being hacked with an axe and a school shooting with fatalities. It seemed too much to bear.
What is happening to our world? There seems to be more of this awful stuff than ever before—or maybe the 24-hour news cycle makes it harder than ever to avoid. I don’t know.
There is a lot I don’t know about what is going on these days and it tries my spiritual beliefs. Although I believe that any killing is wrong, even killing done by the state, these times test that my commitment to that belief. What is it we should do with men who behead others? Or who stone their daughters to death? What do we do with people who are so damaged—some would say evil—that there is no coming back from it?
I have no answers.
For those of us who believe we can change the world, these are hard times, indeed. Maybe like me, you find yourself furrowing your brow or wringing your hands, asking, What can I do? What influence do I have?
I’ve come to see that the answer is plenty. Maybe we can’t stop fanatics from violent acts, but we have plenty of influence on our immediate worlds. On our family. Our friends. Our community.
And we should do all we can to exercise that influence and counteract the evil in the world.
So what can we do to make our small worlds kinder? We can reach out to those in need. Take the hand of a sick friend and sit a while with them. We can smile at the grocery store checker and ask how her day is going. Or offer workers a pitcher of lemonade.
We can pay the toll for the car behind us or let that woman with just a few items go ahead of us in the grocery line. How about bringing flowers to a shut-in? Or sending a card and note to an elderly person in a care home? We can donate to a nonprofit agency helping abused children or abused pets. Or volunteer our time to a helping organization.
There are things we can do to make our immediate world a better place, a kinder place. They’re not heavy lifting and some don’t cost a cent.
If we all do our part in our little corner of the world, maybe, just maybe, Desmond Tutu will be right and all those little bits of good put together will overwhelm the world.
And if they don’t? They’ll have brightened up our own corner of it. And that, in itself, is a good thing.
Carol Cassara is a writer and ordained minister who believes in living fully in every color of the rainbow. Her essays have appeared in Skirt! magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, on public radio and other venues. After a long career as a corporate communications executive, she is enjoying having more time to write, travel and just enjoy life. When she's not traveling the world, she lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and crazy little maltipoo. Her daily blog inspirations for creating our best lives can be found at www.carolcassara.com.