Here to change the world

Mom had just had eye surgery, but with Jeff's help, she was able to enjoy a lovely day at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in March 2012

Mom had just had eye surgery, but with Jeff’s help, she was able to enjoy
a lovely day at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in March 2012

“We are here to change the world with small acts of thoughtfulness done daily rather than with one great dramatic leap in results.”Rabbi Harold Kushner

Everyone loves to see results.  There’s nothing more satisfying than completing a major project or putting the final touches on something we’ve labored over for weeks.  But in reality, our most important jobs will never be done.  Living daily with faith, reverence and humility will always be a challenge, and treating others as we want to be treated will often require patience and stamina.

We aren’t likely to get much honor or applause for the details involved in being thoughtful to others.  We all want to change the world for the better, but we probably won’t see dramatic improvement when we make time to care, up close and personally, about one individual at a time.

The good news is that small acts of kindness create synergy that comes back to us, making joyful occasions even happier, and easing the tension in frustrating situations.  Thoughtfulness becomes its own reward as we travel through life surrounded with our own portable atmosphere of good will.

We may never see the effect of our actions on the world at large, but that’s not where we live anyway; we’re needed elsewhere.  Fortunately, our power to make a difference is located right where we happen to be today; in our families, our neighborhoods, our communities.  Whose paths will cross yours today?  Whose world can you change?

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Susan

    This is beautiful, Julia. So very true, but often overlooked. And especially important now, when we’re feeling emotionally exhausted by the quarantine.

    I imagine it’s bittersweet to see this picture of your mom and Jeff, missing them both so much. But it’s such a lovely picture; I hope it brings back some lovely memories also.

    And thank you for your thoughtful note ❤ . I look forward to getting together in person … sometime!

    • Hi Susan, yes, this does bring back many mixed emotions. But as you say, many of those feelings are happy ones. I’m glad you got my note! I’ve really been enjoying sending good old-fashioned postal mail to my friends lately. There’s something about a hand-addressed, stamped, handwritten note that just can’t be captured online. Thanks for being here! I hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Chris

    Hi Julia,
    That’s a great picture of Jeff and Mom! The post is penetrating. Wise words indeed: “faith, reverence and humility”, and, yes, very challenging. I hope I’m wrong, but it seems that the prevalent attitude today is “all about me”, rather than thoughtfulness for others. Because of that, it’s hard to see the simplicity; to see that “the power to make a difference is located right where we happen to be today”.
    Hope your day is wonderful, and you have a great week!

    • Chris, I think you’re right about the “all about me” thing. Technology especially has made it possible for us to confine ourselves to associating exclusively with people who think the same way we do, so we can live in an echo chamber where those outside our way of thinking are viewed with suspicion and even hostility. Another example: gift giving used to be gestures of love based on what we knew a person might want or need; now it’s an obligatory transaction where many “invitations” basically are reverse IOUs wherein the gift recipient specifies that they want CASH instead of gifts; they somehow find time to mail the invitations, but never have time to send a thank you. On and on I could go, but I already sound so much like the stereotypical crabby old lady that I’d better stop now. I’ll just add, I think it’s possible to show kindness and compassion without feeling obligated to get sucked into the vortex of “me first” or “my turn now” that is so dominant in our world. Hope you have a great weekend!

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