When I was young I believed that I could change the world. Why not? The world I knew was quite small, just a few square miles, really, and the people I knew and cared about were all within those few acres, and the issues I grappled with were usually resolved within a day or two, and if I encountered something really tough, I enlisted the help of my father and he settled the matter in no time. The older I got, however, and the more I travelled and the more people I met, and the more complex the situations I encountered became, I started to lose hope that I could in fact influence anyone or accomplish anything! My life seemed insignificant and small and of little value when you looked at the whole picture of human history and especially when you took into account that I would probably never get to meet many influential people and those that I did meet, in positions of power or not, were exercising their free will, just like me. But lately, I have begun to adapt the attitude of my childhood once again for I believe that it is the more accurate and truthful one. I CAN change this world.
If you remember any science experiments from school, you will know that in a controlled environment, the presence of another substance always changes the outcome of the experiment slightly, even if it is not directly interacting with the main elements. My presence changes things. I walk into a room, I buy something at a store, or I talk to someone on the phone. All of these everyday events may seem insignificant, but inasmuch as I will let him, where I walk, Jesus walks, and where Jesus walks…things always change. If I speak with kindness or wait with patience or smile at a child or let someone in line ahead of me…things have changed. If I call a waitress by name, pray silently for a couple having an argument or impulsively call a friend to say, “I like you,”…things change. If I drive across town to meet someone for lunch even when my day is already too full…I have changed something. If I stop and look up in awe at a wispy cloud while standing on a busy street corner with people rushing all around…I have changed something.
By stepping foot in Africa, I changed the world. I used precious moments of my life to take an intimate look at life in another part of the world and more than that, to participate in it. I gazed in wonder at foreign people and landscapes, I briefly met people of great standing in the community and spent time with small children who might not live a full adult life. I hugged black people and white people. I discussed deep and profound spiritual matters with my friends, and at other times stood silently because those I was with did not understand my language or rather…I was foreign to theirs. I laughed and cried, I worked and played, I gave and received, and in the midst of it all…things were changing and I was being changed.
And if I can be changed by the small things that touch my life…so can others.