Why do we applaud ‘good deeds’? Why do religions propagate acts of charity? Why do fairy tales hail the kind and condemn the evil? Altruism is a virtue placed on a pedestal in any civilized society. Philanthropists are hailed in high esteem. In a world where dog eats dog, there is never a dearth of those who dedicate their lives to serving others – whether by sharing their wealth or by devoting their passion, time and energy to a cause dear to the heart. So can one conclude that the goodness of heart leads to a great society?
Thinkers and philosophers have spent their lifetimes arriving at the answers to the questions above. Aside from the obvious reasons, something that stands out is the fact that an act of kindness and a positive outlook towards life, create a ripple effect in the immediate environment. Goodness is as infectious as the flu. It is only a matter of sowing that seed of benevolence wherever we are, through whatever we do. As much as acts of crime and increasingly disturbing news today may overwhelm us, making us feel helpless at times, we can’t deny that goodness still trumps negativity. The power of positivity can sweep any amount of negativity under its massive currents.
So how do we create a wave of what we call a ‘change for the better’? In order to understand this first, we need to perceive our individual roles correctly. While you and I may wonder how we, within the limits of our puny existences, could bring about a transformation in a world that boasts of never-ending and intimidating issues! What difference does it make if just one person throws their garbage in a bin and not on the street? So what if a handful of people start planting trees or attempt to educate street children, or donate their time or money to the underprivileged? What about the rest of us who go about our lives indifferent to the misery of others? Or those who have no qualms about deceiving and violating others? Won’t the passion of a handful of us get irretrievably lost amidst the apathy of most others? Can tiny droplets make a difference to the boundless ocean? A wise man aptly said, it is precisely why we must shake ourselves up, stand up and take action. Because a step taken by a single individual creates the momentum any revolution needs.
It is easy to get lost in our little bubble of comfort and forget all about what surrounds it. If we look back at the history of mankind, there are umpteen instances of individuals who assumed unconditional responsibility to revolutionize the world around them – whether anyone stood alongside or not!
Imagine for a moment, if Gandhi thought the country’s fate had little to do with him! What if he hadn’t fought as hard as he did to free India from the colonial rule? One shudders to think what could have been the destiny of our nation! “Be the change you want to see in the world”, are some of the most famous words uttered by the man who dedicated his life to a cause greater than himself. From the moment of his awakening in South Africa, he was a man on a mission. The stand-alone spirit he possessed, motivated many who just like us felt either powerless or directionless.
So how does an ordinary individual create this endless stream of goodness? We do it being who we are, doing what we do, amid the struggle of our everyday existence. The world doesn’t demand grand gestures. All that’s needed is a constant trickle of endeavours. Rest assured never-ending ripples will be created.