Thursday, May 3, 2012

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

That is a quote I would like to live by, but that means i actually have to do something, right? Yikes!  I think I used to be intimidated by what that actually means and how it would translate into real life for me. Before I even got my assignment with Be The Change- Kenya (BTCKE) I had checked out their website to see what they were doing and that quote jumped off the page at me immediately. Or it may have been at the bottom of an email I got from Natalie (director of BTCKE) sent me? oops...Well either way it stood out and I have not stopped thinking about it since.  My thoughts on it have been a little jumbled, so this will be an attempt to process them all.

I mean, how in the world can I (a human) be a change? It seems appropriate to start by thinking about the man who said that quote. Gandhi- ok he was definitely a world changer. He saw the world differently than many in his time.  He believed there was more for each person to offer the world and that there was more that the world could offer each person.  He was aware of social injustice and the impact it was having on human beings.  So he decided he wanted that to change. Ok- so that must be the first part, recognizing things need to change!  In my personal journey, I can say that I have done that.  I see the suffering around the world and my heart is broken for it each day.

I wonder what Gandhi thought about when he recognized the need for change.  He must have thought it was possible to make change or he would not have acted, right?  Ok- next thing, believe change can happen.  He made a decision to live his life working for a change, so he must have believed it could happen.  That decision must be last part- take an action toward change.  Things are much less overwhelming to me when I can break them down.

1. Recognize the need for change
2. Believe change is possible
3. Take an action toward making a change

Those three points help me see how a person can be a change in the world.  This will, of course, look different for every person, but I believe everyone is capable for changing the world.  I realize I am not Gandhi and most of us will not make the great known changes that he made, but that does not mean we cannot all impact people and allow others to impact us.  Just recently it really hit me that I will be leaving a town that has been my home for the past six years and at first I was really sad.  As I have taken the time to think about where I am going and where many of my friends are going or have gone I realized how great it is that we are leaving and that some are staying.  Not to brag, but I have the coolest friends.  Each one is passionate about something different and they are all taking the steps mentioned above in all different parts of the world.  Moving to a foreign country is not required to change the world, but I believe if I can change one for the better during my year in Kenya then it was more than worth it. I have no doubt that my life will be changed as well.  Each day we choose to live loving others in a way I believe God has loved us then we are doing exactly what Gandhi said.

I will leave you with a prayer that my 94 year old neighbor read to me the other day. It is the abbreviated version of Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer and I think it is fitting here.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.  Amen.