Make change within yourself to make a difference

January 24, 2017

Anne Stewart

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     “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”

     This powerful statement made by Mahatma Gandhi are words tossed about so much that they’ve lost their meaning.

     But we can still learn something from them.

     As college students, we may ask ourselves how we can bring about change. I think about the problems I see or hear about on a weekly, sometimes daily basis that weigh me down the most: bullying, discrimination, harassment and climate change issues.

     While I know that I cannot dwell on the bad, I also cannot ignore it.

     I have to remind myself that only I can control myself. This is why Gandhi’s words, as overused as they may be, are important.

     If we each make an impact on the world, then we will all see a collective change. I don’t want to go on with my life pretending that the impact I make is minimal, and that others are to blame for our problems.

     To change is hard work. Change can be daunting and full of obstacles. But change is a process.

     I can no longer look outside of myself to figure out why issues like the environment, something that I care deeply about, aren’t solved.

     There are surely ways corporations have practiced business methods that are detrimental to the environment.

     In 2015, floods brought on by an extensive drought affected people in Texas and California. Scientists speculated that climate change made the floods worse by 15-20 percent, according to the United Nations.

     Chemical contaminants are also impacting the air quality. The drilling of fossil fuels trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, according to Pacific Environment.

     But I have to remember that I drive my car to and from school every day and all around town. And sometimes, I forget my re-usable bags when I go to the store to buy groceries and I have to choose between paper and plastic.

     This is a problem that most of us contribute to in some way. Using disposable materials is not easily avoided, and buying new products is encouraged by companies that we are familiar with and love.

     I will be the first to come forward and say that I am still figuring out how to live more sustainably. I believe that I have to take responsibility for the ways I am living that contribute to the condition of the world we all share.

     If I can do damage to a world all on my own, I can also do good for it. “

     As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is…We need not wait to see what others do,” said Gandhi.

     Putting all of this into practice will take time, but the effects of positive change within our personal lives on the world could be unlimited.

     For me, it will look like being respectful of others, doing my best to give what I can of my time to causes I believe in, honoring myself, being kind, picking up trash when I see it lying around and remembering to turn lights off in my house.

     It all counts for something. Whatever it might look like for you, you will have to decide.

     Change can be a storm, a revolution. And at times is can also be as quiet, subtle and beautiful as the sunrise.