While doing some reading on Clayriver’s blog, I found this extremely inspiring quote:
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
As someone who has always wanted to make a difference, I have often found myself caught in the number-trap. Not only do I find myself wondering about the power of the individual and whether it is possible for one to make a difference (despite several examples of individuals who have made a discernible difference to the world and the lives of many who inhabit it), I also find myself wondering whether I have the power to make a difference. To further complicate things, I find myself wanting to help hundreds and thousands of people. This quote made me realise the power of helping just one person.
Instead of trying to save the world, I could, perhaps, try and help one single person- make a difference in one person’s life. If each one of us decided to help one other person, the world could be a much better and a much happier place. Sometimes, in trying to do things grandly, I forget to start small. Perhaps, if I make a difference to one single person’s life, that person might just make a difference to the lives of another 10 people. The important thing is to start somewhere and to start small. The important thing is to just ‘start’.
So how does one help people in the first place? I believe that even the smallest action can start a series of chain reactions- a butterfly effect, if you will. This concept is popularly called Pay It Forward and there is even a movie based on this. The basic idea is to do something small for someone and ask them to do something else for someone else in need. Instead of asking them to pay you back, you ask them to pay it forward. It does not necessarily have to be monetary- it could be time spent making a difference, or a hot meal to someone who is hungry. I have to realise the importance of small actions and how they can translate into something bigger. After all, Rome wasn’t built in one day and it is foolish to expect that I will wake up one day to a peaceful world.
Unfortunately, the concept of Paying it Forward requires a certain amount of faith in humanity and I find myself lacking this kind of faith. As I grow older (and perhaps, wiser), I find myself losing even more faith in humanity. I find myself envying children who find it so easy to trust and believe. Perhaps, I am getting caught up in the number-trap again. Maybe, if I help 10 people, and if even one of them decides to pay it forward, I will have succeeded in making a difference. It is so easy to become jaded and so difficult to just have faith.
In a world where making a difference is somehow linked to donating money, I also find myself becoming passive while making a difference. I feel happy that I have donated a small sum of money (through a website) to help someone buy another sewing machine for her tailoring business. While, I am glad I did this, I also feel that helping people has to become more than just about giving money- it has to translate into action. I also don’t consider it necessary to join an NGO for this purpose. I feel that I can live my life the way I want to and still make a difference to someone. I could do volunteer work, I could help a friend in need, I could teach someone something- hell, I could even make a difference just by blogging. Once, I take away the numbers and shift my focus on quality, it becomes so much easier to make a difference.
Perhaps, it is time to have just a little bit of faith and try and make a small difference to one person’s life. Maybe, I should just stop wondering whether that person will appreciate it or not. Perhaps, I should stop trying to find someone worthwhile to help and instead just help someone. It could be that my time was spent in vain or that the person did not make use of the help given but I am sure that if I try with enough people, I am bound to succeed with at least one. I would make a difference in my own little way and I would make the world a better place for at least one person.
I can’t even imagine what would happen if everyone decided to do something like this. The possibilities are endless.
(Thank you, Shannon, for this little bit of inspiration. I am extremely grateful.)