The kitchen table is piled with dishes. Laundry flows like lava from baskets. Bills glare reproachfully at you from their resting place on the fridge. So, what do you do?
Well, you’d probably like to turn on your heel and begin a glamorous new life somewhere else. Somewhere tidy, with fresh laundry and no bills, where you could tango until midnight instead of worrying about ‘stuff’.
That’s understandable but it’s also unlikely to be available to you as a real option, and even if it is, before long the dishes and clothes and bills will pile up all over again – unless you take charge.
Everything in the world obeys this principle – if we do nothing, the dysfunction grows and thrives and we become more intimidated and less able to see our way through any problem.
So – is there an answer?
There are a few.
How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time.
Little by little, day by day.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The flap of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas.
They’re called truisms because they’re true I guess.
The thing is, most change happens in increments, slices, tiny, insignificant-looking events. Which does make it annoyingly slow but it also makes it largely achievable by pretty much anybody.
And not just change in your life or kitchen or house but all change. Including change that can alleviate some of the suffering in the world.
Most of us are ordinary folk and we don’t do much to create the wars, the unjust economies or the atrocities committed in our names. However, we can do quite a lot to change these things.
I know it seems unlikely. I know it seems like you or I couldn’t possibly alter the world in any really significant way.
But, maybe if we did everything we could do – whatever that was – to address injustice or alleviate suffering, our tiny, insignificant-seeming actions would start a ripple of change that could grow and swell until something happened for the better?
To take part in this experiment, all that’s required is that we each do whatever we can do – however small and useless that seems.
A ton of feathers still weighs a ton (I made that one up)
Butterfly Effects for Change, is a collection of real stories – true accounts of ordinary people doing just that – whatever they could – and the change that resulted.
I’m trying to collect these stories and while I already have some, I’d like to invite people to add their own stories – or stories they know – or even send them to me if that seems like a better option. I’d love to read them.
So here’s story number 1 –
Standing Up for Each Other*
In 1992, thousands of people died in Hindu–Muslim riots triggered by the destruction of a mosque at Ayodhya by a group of Hindu militants, yet in the state capital of Lucknow, only forty miles away, there wasn’t even one casualty.
This was partly due to the influence of the largest private school in the world, the City Montessori School. Founded in 1959, the school has over twenty thousand students from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
During daily reflection time, teams of students use stories and texts from the world’s religions to engage their fellow students in conversations about virtues like love and truthfulness.
Students also visit India’s holy places – Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, and Jain – in order to learn understanding and respect for other faiths.
Classroom activities center around collaborative problem-solving and teachers go out of their way to commend and reward students for consideration of others.
The school actively encourages parents and grandparents to be involved in designing the school curriculum and to reinforce the principles of tolerance and cooperation at home.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, during the 1992 conflict, thousands of students and parents responded by marching through Lucknow, singing songs of unity and carrying posters with slogans like, “The name of God is both Hindu and Muslim” and “God is One, Mankind is One, All Religions are One.”
Meanwhile, all the city’s religious leaders met at the school and, addressing members of the community, spoke out for coexistence, surrounded by models of a Hindu temple, a Muslim mosque, and a Christian church. Such efforts helped Lucknow escape the violence.
Story taken from The Third Side – *http://www.thirdside.org/stories_14.cfm