“There is no world, there is only 6 billion understandings of it,” Drew Dudley literally turns the idea of “changing the world” on its head and urges us to look from the bottom up, challenging our perception of the seemingly insurmountable task. So, who’s up to bat? The Mother Theresas, Mahatma Gandhis or Nelson Mandelas of the world? No. It’s you and I. Ordinary people, who have the capacity to have an extraordinary influence on others; one understanding, one mind, one heart, one action at a time.
I am sure we have all met a person who was responsible for creating these lollipop moments, Drew was talking about. A person, who in simply being themselves, without even realizing it, positively impacts the lives of those around them. Throughout my internship, I have had the privilege to meet and work with some remarkable people. Some who passed in and out of my life for only a brief moment, others who I was fortunate to come to know over time, but each one, in their own way making an impact. Coming away from the whole experience, it is clear to see how much I have been changed by the lives of these people, but it’s much more difficult to see how I’ve had any impact on them. It seems as though that’s exactly what Drew is getting at, it’s in those moments that we never imagined making a difference that is the difference. We may never have the luxury of knowing or receiving acknowledgement for what was done, but the fact is that every action has an effect no matter how great or small. It’s challenging to be placed in the middle of a complex community, with a complicated history, unique economic, social and environmental realities for a very short amount of time, and expect that our presence is going to make any monumental contribution to the work that is going on there. It’s almost inevitable that anyone would fall short of meeting that objective but I have come to understand that is not what’s important. What is most important is that we do the best we can, always.
In the face of adversity, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the barriers in our way. I would say let your conviction of knowing you’re doing the right thing sustain you and whenever you are feeling discouraged or defeated in whatever battle you are fighting, remember the story of the hummingbirdtold by Professor Wangari Maathai . (If you don’t know who this amazing Kenyan woman was, you’re going to want to do yourself a favour and google her, now. Go do it!).
We are agents of change. Each and every one of us. We cannot stand idle. As the great Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” So go fight your forest fires, one drop at a time, be the lollipop to someone’s moment, dare to change someone’s understanding, be unforgivingly bold and speak up. Don’t let your good intentions be undermined by the false presumption that you are insignificant. Never underestimate the impact of a simple action. You are powerful beyond belief.
Patricia Butt was working as an eRoots Coordinator with Crown the Child Africa in Kenya.