It is sometimes very tempting, and dispiriting, to imagine that we have very little control over what happens in the world around us. Throughout the world, there are wars, riots, and signs of impending economic and environmental collapse. Sometimes we feel insignificant and powerless, as though we were plankton caught up in the great surge and flux of world events. All too often, it seems as though our political leaders are indifferent to our concerns, and whatever action we take as individuals to try and make things better is doomed to inconsequentiality.
In reality, though, nothing is further from the truth. When we feels powerless and helpless, the fact is that we are simply focusing too much on the big picture, and forgetting and ignoring the vital importance of our own influence on the level of day-to-day events. Think for a minute about all of the people you come into contact with every day. Whether these people are friends, family, fellow students, co-workers, shop attendants, your neighbours, your child, your child’s friends, or the teachers of your child, you have a relationship of some kind with each and every one of them. In some small way, you have the opportunity and the potential to have an influence on them. With a harsh word or a malign piece of gossip, you can bring pain and suffering, perhaps develop a bitter enmity. On the other hand, with a kind word, a warm gesture, you can improve the quality of someone’s day or even their life. By sharing your wisdom and knowledge with others in a spirit of generosity, you can help top enrich their own lives and thoughts. By acting with integrity and love in all situations, you can provide a positive role model that may be emulated by others. Remember that one of the significant defining factors of our humanity is our curiosity. We have a desire to understand and imitate the actions and ideas that attract us. Like a pebble tossed into a still pond, the ripples of your positive or negative actions will spread out far beyond the source.
Now think about the math involved in this matrix, this web of interactions with others. Think about the multiple opportunities for influence that you have every day, every week, throughout your lifetime. Think about how wisely and kindly you use your influence, and about how much power and responsibility each of us truly has.