It sometimes feels overwhelming that as one ordinary person there is not much we can do to make a difference in a world facing immense challenges.
A world in which natural disasters and inhumane injustices overwhelm us. It often seems easier to shrug one’s shoulders: “there is nothing I can do to turn the tide,” seems to be a common attitude.
With tidal waves of need beamed into our lounge rooms each night, the weight of global perspective tends to collectively push our little noses below the waterline, leaving us wondering if we too are drowning.
How do we as individuals even start to make a difference? Can one ordinary person really change anything?
I didn’t have to look far around me to realise that one person CAN and does make a difference – often without significant financial or educational resources, just a willingness to step out in faith.
I have watched in awe as a 12-year-old started a foundation to extract women and children from a lifetime of slavery in the sex trade in India.
A seed that grew from a simulation game run in her school birthed a foundation that 10 years on has changed the lives of many for the better – giving hope where once there was none.
On a recent flight I read an article in the Qantas magazine which referenced a blueberry farmer who has changed the lives of many. From the beginning of his farming venture this man and his wife have supported World Vision from the profits, and over six years set up three new health clinics in a village in Uganda.
This same man probably doesn’t even remember saving my life by pulling me onto his surfboard when I was caught in a rip! It was great to see he was still saving lives!
A 16-year-old on work experience in a Thai hospital spent her evenings on the ward with leprosy patients teaching them some basic embroidery. She didn’t know until decades later that these same patients had returned to their leper colony, as they were known then, and turned their newly found sewing skills into a cottage industry.
Another friend and his wife ventured into the heart of the Northern Territory many years back to sit and learn at the feet of our Indigenous people. A mutual love of singing saw them establish a choir who have gone on to perform annually in the MacDonald Ranges and tour overseas, bringing enormous joy to all who hear them.
I have used no names partly because none of these people did it for any glory, but also to underline that it could be any one of us. They simply responded with what they had in their capacity to act.
Often it is the smallest of steps by one ordinary person that birth significant changes. Are you or I that very ordinary person ready to make a difference in the life of even just one other? It takes courage to just give it a go – who knows where it will lead?
Great movements in history have started with one person – think Jesus, Mohammed, Gandhi and Mandela, for example – who by their simple acts have begun a transformation which has echoed through the ages. This is the essence of true faith.
Evelyn Heard is a Melbourne writer.