Be the Change

We live in a big, beautiful world full of big, ugly problems.

Poverty. Undrinkable water. Dictators suppressing people’s voices and rights. Mass shootings. Lack of access to quality medicine or education. Loss of forests and rainforests. Irreparable damage to coral reefs and other animal habitats. Risk of mass animal extinctions. Racism. Bigotry. Terrorism.

I’m just touching the surface.

The idea of making the world a better place sometimes seems incredibly daunting. We are like Atlas holding the world up on our shoulders and feeling it’s crushing weight.

I was literally unable to sleep recently thinking about this, and it all started with one little problem: the presence of water bottles in my son’s school. Let me say first, that he goes to an amazing school, and I am not by nature a complainer. Yet there I was, unable to sleep, because I was so shocked that students are given tiny single-use plastic bottles, everyday.

I immediately decided I would talk to my son about using his own reusable stainless steel cup, which we can leave in his cubby.  And remind him about taking care of our planet by reducing trash. It’s something we talk about plenty. We compost, recycle, reuse, and seriously try to reduce and be conscientious about the waste we produce. (I will dedicate a whole ‘nother post on things you can do everyday to make an environmental difference.)

But what good does one person do?

So there I was at 5 am one morning, my insomniac brain firing off manically. It bombarded me with recollection of a news story on the quality of water in Newark, which really isn’t news. It’s been a problem for years but the new story was about how the mayor and city were providing bottled water to residents of specific areas known to have especially problematic lead levels. I remember teaching in Newark and the schools regularly being checked for water quality and lead levels. The schools I worked in passed. And obviously the mayor and his people are doing a good thing providing potable water for free, but a bigger issue still exists. A big, fat, daunting one of water quality.

When life’s problems and our dreams of helping fix them become too overwhelming, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

Again, we live in a big, beautiful world full of big, ugly problems.

On this 18th anniversary of 9/11 and the atrocious events that shook our world, there are so many different ways to march on, overcome, and continue the good fight for a better world.

However you choose to spend today commemorating, lets all strive to make the world better, even just a little. Not just today. Not only when the ugly in this world rears it’s head. Not by praying and thinking. But by leading, acting, and making a difference.

We live in a big beautiful world.

Maybe reducing the use of plastics in one Texas elementary school won’t solve all of the big, ugly problems, but that sleepless night lit in me a passion to make a change in my small corner of the world. And that’s a start.

I don’t want to get political, because I honestly cannot harness my own thoughts well enough to share them here, but if 9/11 taught us anything, it is that we should not take things for granted and we are a nation of strong people.

So don’t wait for tomorrow to make a difference. Be the change. Lead by example.

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