How Can Your Approach To Life
Change The World?
By Jacquie Wise
You can have as much of an impact on the world—or on your life— by not doing something as by doing it. What consequence does a passive approach to life have? What about your approach to your own life? This blog looks at how our approach to life impacts on global, national, community and personal changes.
Here’s one of the incidents in my life I continue to deeply regret, because I could have and should have said something, but didn’t. I was too passive.
I had a couple of friends once (who are no longer friends) who took me by complete surprise with their sudden expression of racism. We were in a parking lot outside a shopping centre, and some Asian people were also packing their shopping in the car adjoining ours. My companions both began to insult them, yelling jibes, telling them to go back to their own country…really nasty stuff.
All I could manage to say was ‘What are you doing! Stop it!’ But they were too busy yelling to hear my little voice.
I know I should have turned to the Asians and said ‘I want to apologise to you for my friends, I don’t know why they’re behaving like this. I want to assure you that not Australians feel this way; we respect you and you’re very welcome here.’
I should have, but I didn’t. I was so shocked, I was stunned into silence. The moment passed so quickly—I was hustled into the car.
As we drove off, I said again ‘What the hell were you doing?’ They just laughed and said they were just joking. Joking?
I often recall this incident and wonder what damage these nasty comments would have done. How much hurt they could have caused. Perhaps ongoing fear and defensiveness.
And if I had said what I’d wanted to say, how much it might have repaired some of that damage. But I didn’t. I just froze. Not good enough. I’ve never passively stood by since.
We are as guilty by our silence as we are by being the offensive ones.
Only those people who bother to step up to add their voice to movements of change—whether it’s by signing petitions, lobbying governments, raising funds, organising aid where it’s needed—those are the ones who shape the policies of their country and influence how the world changes. And it doesn’t have to take a big effort, if you can’t manage it. That’s ok. Every little bit counts.
If we don’t bother to step up, we passively wait to see what happens, and then often complain and criticise decision-makers if we don’t like the outcome. Conversation is peppered with what should be done. All well and good to say that now.
The American election is a perfect example of the consequence of passivity. In America, voting is not compulsory. Those who voted for Trump were persuaded by clever marketing strategies convincing them that his business skills alone would be enough to improve the economy and create jobs. Voters were ignorant or gave no thought to his lack of experience crucial to the position of world leader.
The rest of America didn’t bother to vote against him because they thought it was a big joke. It would never happen. But it did, and it happened as a direct consequence of all those people who could have voted against him but didn’t, because they didn’t take it seriously enough.
Now, we can see all the damage that’s being done to international relationships, to name but one area. Too late. No point complaining now.
Reflection: Is there something in your own life that’s growing into a problem because you’re ignoring its significance? Read on to my pointers below.
How we can apply pressure by NOT doing something
All over the world it’s consumer pressure that has changed the products that appear on supermarket shelves. We stopped buying certain products. Our refusal to accept something is what created the pressure on companies.
As a direct consequence of our individual buying patterns, we have ensured more cruelty-free products made available, more transparency with contents listed on packaging, and more environment-friendly products.
And so we change the world.
It begins with us as individuals taking an interest and being informed, so that we can make our buying and other decisions based on solid information rather than thoughtlessly.
Choosing to refuse to do something is not the same thing as doing nothing.
Let’s shrink this down to a smaller, community scale.
It takes just one person to start something big. For example, Brian Egan founded Aussie Helpers, a charity organisation. They joined Ross Barbera of Barbera Farms to organise the dispatch of 22 tonnes of vegetables that did not make the supermarket grade to feed starving cattle in drought-stricken south-west Queensland.
It’s groups of volunteers who collect the discards from restaurants to feed the poor.
They, and others like them, are all individuals joining together to create a group big enough to change the world.
It’s groups of individuals like you and me who raise funds or who donate clothing to be sent to disaster areas.
We don’t all have to be activists ourselves. If we’re time poor, one simple thing we can do is to add our name to petitions. They do have an impact, if they back media campaigns which apply pressure on companies or governments.
You could subscribe to be sent petitions. You can choose which to ignore or which to sign. An Australian organisation which lobbies for social justice, economic fairness and environmental stability is https://www.getup.org.au
Or you can start your own petition at www.gopetition.com/start-a-petition. It creates awareness of an issue and encourages people to make one small change.
Another idea is to inform a journalist of some injustice you’ve observed.
Let’s shrink this down again to our day-to-day lives in our community
You can create change in your own back yard by being considerate to neighbours, respectful to immigrants, or by including a lonely person in some get-together.
You can teach children to be respectful of others and to care about the footprint they leave behind.
You can give a homeless person that old jumper, or be more mindful of donating a few coins.
You can do something to create a better workplace, perhaps making it easier for people to do their best at work.
Most importantly, if we hear racism or prejudice of any kind in conversation, we can all be the one who gently offers an alternative, more constructive perspective. We can all be the one who defends the recipients of abuse.
Let’s shrink this down again to your own life
It’s worth reflecting on—perhaps writing in your journal—in what ways taking a passive approach has impacted on your life, or perhaps your career.
A passive approach includes putting off thinking about something. It includes avoiding making an action plan and taking that first step. Allowing problems to build up through inaction.
Being passive also means not asking for what you want, so that others make decisions impacting you. By not speaking up, you teach others how to behave with you.
A passive approach to life also means being a passive spectator—watching how others are living, instead of getting in there and living it yourself.
I used to love the ‘Life—Be In It’ advertising campaign we used to have in Australia some years ago. The campaign urged us to get off the couch and go play ball with our kids. Or stop watching TV and go explore something new.
Life is out there, waiting to be lived. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Walking by the beach is free.
Are you really living life, moment by special moment, or are you passively letting time go by and not getting around to experiencing it? Interesting thoughts.
Of course it depends on priorities, but there has to be a little pocket of space somewhere for life balance and your wellbeing.
Begin by making small changes in your own life. You will influence those around you and they will influence those around them. You’ll possibly decide that one of your goals will be to join a fund-raising run, or make new friends by joining a group of individuals doing their little bit to change the world.
Be the change you want to see in the world
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Reproducing and Sharing
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