image by williammarlow
I recently wrote a post on medium, Let the Caterpillar Die, and shared it on various social media. It created bit of a discussion in one of the groups.
The post is about accepting life’s changes, letting go of the old so you can embrace the new. The discussion included some comments which I find to be very negative outlook of life, of progress, of the human behaviour.
The point one commenter made is valid, that the proof of our progress is in the weapons of mass destructions, famine, poverty, and greed.
But is it all there is?
Without progress, we would not be here, reaching out to each other across continents, communicating instantly. Without progress, we would not have the freedom to pursue the careers we want. Without progress, we would not be able to develop medicines that has prolonged life to the extent that most people live until they are 70.
Yes, I am aware that the same opportunities are not available to everyone across the world. I am also aware that there is unthinkable amount of suffering in this world.
But, I am also aware that there are more opportunities now than ever before. I am aware that there is much joy, kindness and hope to be found.
None of us alone are going to solve all of humanity’s problems. I don’t believe they can ever be eradicated completely, because that would be utopia, which with the existence of free will is unlikely. But that is an article for another day.
The point I want to make today is this: if you choose to focus on everything that is wrong with the world, what kind of message are you passing onto your children? To the younger generation? Perhaps it would be something like this:
Just look how shit this world is, and shut up about your happy land. Never mind your cheeriness you young-non-cynical-idealist, just look at the starving children, and commiserate with us instead of trying to make things better in your small way.
This is important, particular for people who don’t have children. You think you have no responsibility, because you are not raising a child. You are not passing down any values. But you are. If you are in a profession where you get to mentor or advise younger people, you are in that position. If you are using social media as a platform for your opinions, you are influencing people who may be of any age. Sure, you could say it’s not your responsibility. Well in that case, you are contributing to the shittiness of the world.
What do you do when your child tells you they want to be a musician, or a writer, or a movie star? Do you tell them to be realistic, pick a career that can pay the bills, or do you tell them to follow their dreams?
What do you do when someone is enthusiastic about their plans to ace their exams, or start a new business? Do you tell them about chances of failure?
What do you do when someone is head over heels in love, and dreaming with open eyes? Do you tell them to be careful, and give them statistics of divorce?
You cannot fix the world immediately. You cannot completely eliminate prejudices, unfairness, and sheer cruelty that exists. You cannot change every human heart.
Therefore, don’t focus on what you cannot do. Focus instead on what you can do.
You can choose to be a better person. You can ensure that you never prejudice against someone because of their colour, race, or any part of their upbringing that they have no control over. You can ensure that you never treat someone with cruelty or unfairness. You can ensure that you deliberately don’t hurt people. You can ensure that you contribute positively in this world, in whatever way you can. You can make someone feel better with a genuine smile, or a heart-felt compliment.
There is enough cynicism in the world. There is enough negativity (watch any news channel). There is enough misery.
Yes it is important to make people aware of the sufferings of others. But what’s more important is to take action that attempts to balance the scales. You may not change the world, you may not help all the starving children, but if you influence one life, that is enough.
That is what great teachers and mentors (parents, writers, leaders in their fields etc.) have done through centuries. They may not have changed the world themselves, but they have influenced those who do.
Who are you going to be?
Are you going to be a person that influences the next generation to be more cynical and negative, or are you going to be a person who tells them to go for their dreams and make this world a better place?
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
Pay attention to your current attitude. How much negativity comes out of your mouth? How are you unintentionally influencing your children or the people around you?
Do you think you need to change? How?