From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” – Clarissa Pikola Estes
How often inaction is driven by thinking too big. We think about the problems of the world and they become too big for us to tackle ourselves, so we do nothing. We cannot provide food for the millions in Africa who are starving, so we do nothing. We cannot stop the genocides that are on going in the Middle East, so we do nothing. We cannot stop human trafficking, so we do nothing. Doing nothing is the easy choice. We fail to see what we can do right in our own back yard. What’s within your reach?
If we really took the time to stretch out and see the needs right close to us, we would be able to do plenty to reduce hunger and suffering and human exploitation right in our own towns and cities. How often do we scurry by that homeless beggar on the corner asking for our help? How easy is it for us to look the other way when we see a teenage girl selling herself on the streets to support a drug habit? How many times must we tune into the nightly news and do nothing as we see and hear about another massacre in our schools or churches. These things are happening within our reach. Stretch out and try to mend what you see every day. What’s within your reach?
We tend to let ourselves generalize the problems that we see and let them grow into seemingly unsolvable huge things that we are incapable of solving alone. It’s not just that homeless beggar, it’s all homeless people. It’s not just that one teen prostitute, it’s all people hooked on drugs. It’s not just that one crazed shooter, it’s all of the disturbed people in the world. If we let that happen, we become paralyzed by the enormous size of the problems than we see. What’s within your reach?
But, what if you could help that one homeless person that you meet get back on their feet and become a productive member of society again? What if you could save that young girl from a life on the streets? What if your efforts to alert authorities about an unstable person who is headed towards becoming a shooter could prevent that from happening and stop the carnage before it happens? Do you see how taking action, even with only one person in need, can change things in the world? If you can see it, what is stopping your from doing it? Look around. What’s within your reach?
Maybe you just can’t bring yourself to act alone. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable trying to approach the homeless person or the street walker with your offer to help. Maybe fear keeps you from saying anything to (or about) that unstable person. There are still ways that you can help. There are organizations that you can join and work for that provide that help and intervention. Groups like Community Sharing are here locally, within your reach. Groups like the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force exist and run hotlines that provide help. They need people to do the work that they do. They are within your reach. And there are crime tip hotlines like the Safe School Helpline in every state that provide an anonymous way for to alert the authorities about a potential problem person. That phone call is within your reach.
So, don’t become paralyzed by thinking too big. Think about what is within your reach and then take actions to do something about what you can see. If everyone, everywhere just did that the big national problems would fade away one local solution at a time. What’s within your reach?