It is daunting to be one of over seven billion people. It is not surprising that some young people are convinced they can’t make a difference and are pessimists about the future they are facing. A contrary and optimistic point of view is to realize the contribution of human determination and will in the events of each day. Whether you see the outcomes as positive or negative, behind most outcomes is a person or persons who made them happen. You can decide to be one of those persons.
Another cause for optimism is human history. For over a million years our genus has been evolving. Modern humans appeared between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago. We have solved or made progress at solving every problem we have pitted our energy against. We have no reason to believe we will not also solve the problems we presently face.
The simple truth is that any one of us can decide to make things happen rather than be overwhelmed by our perceived powerlessness. Each of us must remember that demonstrations have organizers, facilitators and participants. Books and pamphlets have writers, distributors, and readers. Solutions have creators who developed answers and communicated them.
We can choose to be any one of these and work in concert with others to make change happen. Most often people start by following. Leadership is eventually bestowed on a selected individual(s) that others are convinced will lead them to a desired outcome.
No one has ever altered the future by sitting dejectedly in front of their TV in a darkened living room deploring all of the world’s events and depressed about perceived powerlessness. All those people do is take themselves out of the way of someone who has decided to make something happen.
Most of us have heard someone else deploring the condition of the world. I have personally heard young people who ask why they should bring a baby into a world such as this? This assumes a feeling of powerlessness projected on the next generation. It need not be so and it is not what we want to teach the next generation. The history of humanity has been a history of individuals who chose the course they wanted to pursue. No matter how many articles I write, problems I rail against or actions of others with which I disagree, I am an optimist. I would not spend the effort if I thought it didn’t make a difference.
Change is not easy and always takes longer than we fear and produces results that are less than we hope for. And yet, those of us who have lived long enough have seen a world where people no longer routinely throw trash out their car window, smoke in public places, hide their sexuality, or can’t marry and make a family with whomever they wish.
In the book, Beyond Animal, Ego and Time it states, “We remember those who demonstrate concern for the welfare of strangers; Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, and Oscar Schindler. We honor people who articulate higher human ideals and lead great change to improve the human condition, often with great personal sacrifice; Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. We learn from individuals who advance our knowledge and increase the probability of our survival in the future; Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei, Werner Eisenberg, and Francis Crick. We revere those who advance human belief and inspire us to be better people at peace with the rest of humanity; Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus, Confucius, and Muhammad.”
Less famous but still impactful are millions of others known to those who worked beside them to accomplish positive change. This could easily be you. You must only make the decision and put your effort behind achieving a goal. Others will help you. They are looking for you and will welcome you. Everyone who decides to look will find a chosen path, others to join them and see a better future accomplished.