Can one person change the world?
Recently Miles age nine received philosophy homework (they get them thinking young these days) and was asked to talk about with the family the possibilities of whether or not one person is capable of changing the world. Guess it makes a change from chatting about the coupling of love island contestants! Names like Hitler and Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln and Mother Theresa and of course Donald Trump were thrown around instead. Good Deeds and transformational changes along with the most atrocious acts of inhumanity and crazy dictators in charge of nuclear weapons were considered and discussed. What I have recently learnt from our in house philosophy and ethics expert and from years of listening to Buddhist wisdom is there probably won’t be a clear cut answer to such a giant question or indeed any of the juicy subject matters pondered by history’s greatest thinkers, this should be fun as Miles likes order, he likes correct or incorrect. He likes to do his very best. He likes things to be right. Which on reflection so do I!
What I am coming to realise with age and a little bit of insight from Buddha is that every moment and experience, every single human interaction is just a perception of someone’s own mind. No two people can ever see objects or process information or feel emotionally connected to anything in exactly the same way. How is it possible then for things to be considered right or wrong, good or bad? Imagine someone you hate or dislike is there somebody else that loves them just as passionately? To use the catchphrase of the summer “it is what it is”. It really is. But I am not comfortable with that, my highly principled Capricorn self is tormented by what I consider “unpleasant behaviour” by another human being. I want my high standards met. Oh dear has it really taken me nearly forty-nine years to conclude that I am going to experience much disappointment. I need to chill. What I have reflected on a lot recently is that expectation of how we wish for others to behave and respond to us is no more in our control than if we want sunshine or rain. There isn’t an app to order up those kinds of wants. It is a fast lane to unhappiness to even try, and yet still I can’t seem to stop myself. Half the time we can’t manage our own crazy thoughts and emotions! Have I learnt nothing from Buddha’s talks on self-cherishing, as a species we are very ME ME ME. Yeah yeah I know we needed that instinct to survive blah blah blah. But don’t we evolve? We focus very much on our own wants and needs and those very close to our hearts. We take priority we take offence. We are normally always right (well I am that’s what I tell my husband anyway) and are guided by the voice that shouts at us from inside dictating our likes and dislikes. If we stop the self-cherishing and view every living being as worthy and important and just as deserving as ourselves apparently life will be enhanced and we will all be skipping around being ever so nice to each other. There would definitely be less road rage and gossiping that is for sure. World peace could be a real thing. Would we be less offended, less let down by others if we stopped measuring everybody else with our own high standards stick? Why do we need everyone else to like what we like and do as we do, maybe we get it wrong sometimes too. Do we need all the rules and boundaries to keep us on a straight path or are there too many and that’s what makes us rebel in the first place? They say mistakes are just lessons. Lessons make us grow and that is what we are here for or so I believe.
As a highly sensitive person with big emotions to match my expectations, I have found myself overwhelmed of late. Its hard work being so responsible (my kids must think I’m part of the fun police) maybe I’ll have a midlife crisis! I was feeling a bit nuts and my physical body doesn’t like the turbulence that occurs when my mind isn’t calm and peaceful. So I meditate and yoga and let people stick tiny needles in me and heal my aura in the hopes of restoring the balance. Is it too late to grow a thicker skin, to care less or lower my standards? It is what it is and I am who I am I guess. We live on a planet with billions of humans who see the same thing through different eyes. Who make good and bad choices everyday governed by a personal belief system that they have been taught and may be right or may be wrong? We assume so much in our relationships with each other and create whole scenarios of possibilities instead of using words and asking questions. (It’s funny how so many of us are mind readers.)Not all of these masterpieces are romantic comedies with happy endings. The screenwriter within prefers drama and disaster even the odd horror. Why are we designed to always think the worst? Why do we let ourselves get so easily carried away into the dark? Oh yeah, survival again. To presume or assume is no more than to guess. It is a fast track to misunderstanding and feuds. Write yourself some jokes, a handsome love interest an exotic adventure movie. And have better communication.
I think that one person cannot change the whole world (well maybe God but that’s a whole other philosophical debate) because the world is so vast. Can one event affect every living being can one person initiate an occurrence of that scale? I think that individuals change our own small worlds every day in the way we interact and treat each other; in positive and negative ways either enriching or traumatizing our experience. People are powerful. I like goodness always have. I like that there are people wanting to make our planet a better place to live, that there are caring humans that want to help those less fortunate. That there are activists fighting for equality and human rights and parents teaching their children morals and how to play nice. That there are fixers amongst us who want to try and change what’s not working anymore. I like healers. It can’t all just be about selfish greed and control, can it? We are all made of the same flesh and blood and yet it doesn’t feel like it because we do self cherish constantly and judge and rank ourselves accordingly.
One person can change the world. We can change our own world. We can do our own personal best whatever that may be. We can be someone who inspires someone to inspire someone else to inspire someone else…
Miles thinks that one person can’t change the world because there are too many minds and too many opinions. And that is just his opinion.