This day of travel between camps has given me some time to reflect. Time to reflect on what is working inside the camps and what is not. Time to think about how the rest of the world is responding; what is working there and what is not. Two key things that are making a difference are awareness and action – awareness of the problems and being really present to the situation. Then action in the right direction to improve the overall situation. The more I think about it, the more I believe these key principles can carry over to all areas of our lives.
One of my favorite examples of awareness comes from a story that was in the Washington Post a few years ago about Joshua Bell, one of best violinists in the world. He played as a street performer for 43 minutes on a chilly winter morning. He played some of the most difficult pieces ever written, on a handcrafted violin made in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari, estimated to be worth $3.5 million. Joshua consistently sells out concerts and tickets easily go for $100. So what would happen in this little experiment? Out of nearly 1,100 people who walked by, only seven stopped for at least a minute to listen to the performance.
What would happen if there were millions of people struggling for survival? Living in refugee camps with little food, water, education, or hope for the future? Would people stop and listen? Would they care? Would they even notice? Would people have the time to stop and pay attention? For every thousand people who heard about this, how many would just keep on walking?
While it seems to me that a very small percentage of the world’s people are aware about what is happening in Darfur, there are many amazing people who are – people who are deeply involved, who deeply care and they are taking action to make change.
However, sometimes the awareness is not enough to move one to action. Personally, as I became aware of Darfur, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem. It is so complex, with so many people at risk and I felt powerless against it. But action isn’t one big step that changes everything; you don’t solve everything in a day. You simply take the next step, the next action required. Regardless of how small it seems in comparison to the big picture, just take that next step. As you do, things begin to happen. Things begin to change and without you even knowing it, you influenced the decisions and choices of others by simply taking action.
Some may call it serendipity, but for me it goes ways beyond the dictionary description of the term. The universe simply starts to put movement in action and it began the moment you chose to take action yourself. Action creates action, others respond, the universe responds. In my next blog I’ll share examples of others taking small steps that influenced others on the other side of the world.