Friday, November 18, 2016

The Ripple Effect

Many of my friends and family are really upset about the outcome of the election. If you know me at all you know that I am too.

But this isn’t a political post.

I’ve had several conversations over the past couple of weeks about how an individual can affect change. There are people out there who can make a large-scale impact on the world. Mother Teresa, for example, or Elon Musk.  But just because my scope of influence is way, way smaller than theirs, that doesn’t mean that I can’t make a difference that matters. And that’s not just true of me, of course. Anyone can.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scope of whatever disaster you imagine will happen because of [insert catalyst here – Trump’s presidency, illegal immigration, terrorism, global warming – whatever it is that keeps you up at night]. But I know that I can’t change the results of the election. I can’t slow down the melting of the icecaps. I can change my own behaviors so that my contribution to environmental issues is minimized, but I alone can’t fix it.

What I can fix is one child’s ability to read or do their math problems. I can fix a family’s ability to eat healthy food for a week. I can hold someone’s hand while they wait for news from the operating room. I can provide a woman living at a shelter an outfit to wear to a job interview.

My point is that if we want to change the world, we need to start in our communities. If you are frustrated or angry with the state of your community, state, or country, go out and make a difference on your street. Imagine the impact if everyone did just one thing. Imagine if everyone did just one thing every month.

This was what I was telling my brother Tuesday night. Then on Thursday, the leaders of the company I work for said the same thing – it’s time to take care of our communities. And lest you think it was all just talk, they put power behind their words. All employees at 22squared now have 5 VTO days per year to take for volunteer efforts, and if someone is involved in a larger-scale program, they can apply to take a whole month.

I’m grateful to be working for a company that encourages community service. The next step is finding more opportunities to make an impact – to throw a small pebble into the pond and see the ripples grow.

What will you do?