You can’t change the world.
You can only change yourself.
You can hope that the person you are, the way you live, the way you act, the way you speak, the things you do, the work you do, the questions you ask, the answers you give, go on to help others to change themselves too.
But you cannot change anyone else, not in their heart and mind.
Only they can do that.
To change others is to chain others. It is to wish to remove their agency in the process. Maybe they are ripping the world apart, maybe they need to be stopped. I’m not saying you shouldn’t fight back. I’m not saying you shouldn’t stop them.
This is only about intention, about framing, about a way of looking.
You could inspire others, you could be the rude awakening to others, you could love others, you could care for others, but you do not know how your actions will affect them. You do not know what change you will cause them to make, and what change you won’t.
You do not know what someone else needs, you do not know that you can give that to them, you do not know that you can’t.
You do not know what impact you will have on anyone else’s life, not really.
So how do you change the world?
You live in it the best way you can. Whether that’s just living your life, whether it’s tearing down structures of oppression, whether it’s greeting everyone with love and joy, whether it’s counseling, listening, speaking, asking questions, giving answers. Gardening. Organizing. Arguing. Making art. Making love.
You can think globally and act locally, and think locally, and act globally, and at the end of the day, you still can’t guarantee your change on anyone or anything other than yourself.
You can live with the intention to love, with the intention to help, with the intention to care for, knowing that you will never know how you influence or impact anyone else.
You change you. You refuse to do anything less. And you hope that who you are in this world helps the world to change too.
For me, I’m keeping the world in mind. I’m changing me. I’m changing the way I interact with people, the way I speak, the things I do, the way I live. I may end up in some grand revolutionary movement. My footsteps may shake the whole world. The words I speak may wake up the whole universe. But in choosing to love, in choosing to act, in choosing to be a voice against oppression, I’m not changing the world. I’m changing me.
I don’t know the impact I will have, have had, am having. I only know what I do to me, and how I want to live, and the world I want this world to be. So I am going to be that world, and change the way I relate to it. I may not do anything differently. I may still write and travel and be an activist. But I’m changing the way I think about it. I’m giving up control of everyone else, and trying only to control me.