Gandhi said and lived it best—be the change you wish to see in the world. Of course his predecessors and contemporaries sound this clarion call too—Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Dali Lama just to name a few.

But the quote hails from Gandhi’s actual words. And not only did he live by that code, he died by it, paving the way for tolerance, change hoping for peace with his every footstep. They are words and an example we need now in today’s world, especially following the George Zimmerman verdict.

Which is divisive to say the least–a verdict that some applaud and others lament.

Politics and personal viewpoints aside, we are at a time when we need to address the very issue of how do we become change in and for a world that we oft disagree with or worse, discover has left us jaded, perplexed, pondering if hope is lost—ultimately leaving us at a loss as to what to do next.

Or wondering if our personal actions even matter let alone have an impact.

The other day a friend of mine posted about his lament and anger over the Zimmerman verdict on FB. Paraphrasing, he asked the question—do humans as a whole condone hatred and racism so much that we not only turn a blind eye we support it and the conservative media hosts praise it?  He also said that he had given up hope for our country and all of us.

Many, including myself, responded that there is much good in this country and in us and that instead of raging about the injustice to be proactive…do something about it….

He retorted that he wanted to and has tried but doesn’t know what to do anymore as it seems the voice of reason is no longer welcome. To which I replied: Be the change your want to see in the world…words as I said Gandhi said and lived best.

Our thoughts plant the seed; our actions manifest the deed. A great philosophy but the question looms–what does one do?

How do we effect change?

  • Do something about it….be proactive, be a changing force in the world even if at a small level through positive action, but not thru anger shared on a social media site. If you don’t agree with the way the world is, then change it.
  •  Make personal choices and actions that make changes for the better and hope it catches on and makes grand changes.
  • Set an example. Live your life as you wish the world would be. Through your actions exemplify tolerance, compassion, integrity.
  • Shift your focus away from the way you perceive the world—especially if it is one of division— and live in it as the way you envision it to be and what it is designed to be—a melting pot of tolerance. For every racist or hate group there are a dozen more that teach speak and show tolerance love and change.
  •  Focus on groups embracing tolerance and change and live by their philosophies and code.  Give your time energy and attention toward them. Give them your power not the hateful ones.

Fact is that the underlying reason behind hatred is fear.

Fear of what is unknown, fear of what they have been socialized to see as danger, fear in what is different from what they are accustomed to, fear that has been ingrained into their psyches since childhood. Rather than strike out in anger and disgust about a situation, which changes nothing, channel that energy into a means and ways to educate people so they can remove their fears. Remove the fear, and then you can effect real positive change

Realize that to effect change you have to understand why people think as they do. You have to get to know what their story and fears are and you cannot judge them or tell them they are wrong. Or evil or bad.

Instead you ask them if all that anger, hate, and fear is serving their lives well. Most likely they will say no. Hate takes up a lot of energy. And it is a lonely road to travel.  Then you say okay how about if you thought about this in a different way… about if you tried this. Not everyone will change. But many will.

So as you can see, there’s a lot we can do individually to effect collective change.  So coming full circle and recapping what Gandhi said and lived—be the change you wish to see in the world.  Do it with every breath, action and step you take.


  1. Tom Luth

    These are good observations and suggestions. I suppose, like many, I want to see greater results, faster, but need to step back a bit, and re-assess just what good I can do in this world.

    Some mindsets still confound and trouble me greatly. Beyond the actual verdict in the Zimmerman/Martin matter, was the gloating and hateful comments that followed. While I disagree, I can understand the thinking that Zimmerman was simply defending himself. The gloating, on the other hand, is troubling.

    Likewise, I am troubled by the increasing rates of animal abuse, and the support for such by several politicians. I do what I can with my own collection of rescue dogs, and regular contributions to animal rescues that save shelter dogs, but feel it is a steep uphill battle. I suppose, all I can do is just continue towards the right direction, and hope.

    • alison

      You make some valid and astute observations, Tom. Thank you. Perhaps you’d like to write a guest blog about animals and how humans are meant to live in integrity with animals….drop me a line if interested. Alison

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