I came to realize as I got older that one of the most important things I can do was to make a difference. I came to adopt this mantra and it was in doing so I found myself becoming a community activist. I also discovered that being a community activist was not without its pitfalls. It can easily be a distraction from doing ordinary yet needful stuff, attract all sorts of criticism and misunderstanding and lead to burn out. Notwithstanding all this and more, I do not regret being a community activist and continue to be challenged when it comes to choosing which activity I am to be active in, as well as being actively smart. As I have already written (more than once), I blog in order to encourage others to be active in their communities.
When it comes to finding things to be active in, there is no end of possibilities. There is a need to be selective and wise, although more often than not things happen regardless of what we do. It is easy to become overwhelmed or distracted by more selfish pursuits, and ignore the possibilities by merely attending to all sorts of legitimate undertakings, some essential, others less so. I have found that the more one is active there are more possibilities that lend themselves and it then becomes a matter of choosing which, according to ability, interest and opportunity. The other main discovery is that the possibilities are endless and I am continually coming across people doing stuff that hadn’t even occurred to me yet who are making a difference, and it then becomes a matter of encouraging them and sometimes joining them with other stuff going on.
One example of a community activist, who I have never met and not likely to, whose story I need to check out anyway, was presented to me yesterday when a friend posted an article on his Facebook page, which had the title: “Meet The Man Who Dedicated His Entire Pension To Fill Potholes To Save Lives”. Not only was I captivated by what this man did – filling in potholes in the road and making a huge difference in the lives of those affected, but it was in a country that I regard as my second home – India, and is something I can identify with, having on a number of occasions comes a near cropper while traveling along India’s roads, because of pot holes. This man made a difference doing something helpful no-one else was doing and he had the wherewithal to do, and while we might pontificate on other things he could have done and other ways he might have tackled to problem he saw, the main point is he did something.
That something made a difference to many, without which the world would have been a worse place. Quoting the article, he was “embracing Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy “Be the change that you wish to see in the world””. And it seems to me, and as I have witnessed yet again first hand in recent days, while it was not filling in potholes, people do and we can make a difference – and should!