Be the change you wish to see

The famous quote by Gandhi, ‘You must be the change you wish you see in the world.’ For many years, I haven’t fully understood the quote. Mainly because I didn’t care enough. In fact, I would say I used to be quite an indifferent person.

Until one day, for whatever reason, I started to care. I started to realise there are things in my own world that are not doing well.

So what do we do? Out of human nature, I started off with complaining. But when one evaluates (click here to see my previous post) the situation, one would soon realise that another ounce of complaint would not change the situation, if not make it worse. In fact, since I am in the world, I am guilty of the undesirable situation.

Rather than complaining and indulging in self-pity, take ownership and be the change you wish to see.

So I started to BE the change.

You can do something today, to change the world you’re in.

 

Let it go

Thoughts arouse from a conversation with my sista

We all have bits of ourselves that we hope to change. It could be a bad habit, an unsatisfied relationship, an unfulfilling job.
If we work hard enough, some of them could be changed for the better.

But some are not possible to change. The past, no matter how hard we try, cannot be changed. I have yet to meet someone who can do that.

It is hard to let go of things we can't change and move on. But sometimes, we just need to let it go.

I'm still learning.

Efficiency is costly

How are you today? asked Lucas with a big smile on his face. I wasn’t having a particularly great day but his smile was like a radiating sun that warmed and softened my heart. He instantly made my day better so I couldn’t resist but to smile back and say Yes I am! Thank you! 

Lucas is a shop assistant at a chain store in the UK that I have just encountered as I was checking out. Not only as our conversation went on for awhile that I started noticing something different with the way he tilted his shoulder; it was abnormally low, bent towards the desk as he folded the clothes up carefully and neatly. I soon realised that he didn’t have his left forearm. He slowly placed the nicely folded clothes into a shopping bag, piece by piece, as he couldn’t put the whole pile in one go. It touched me. He touched me.

He made my shopping experience. He was compassionate. He cared. His attitude towards life was admirable.

But I am not just talking about being optimistic despite difficult circumstances or preaching about engagement in corporate social responsibilities. Though they are important issues to consider, I’m also talking about culture. A culture where strangers would genuinely ask about your day. Many would say thank you to drivers as they get off the bus. If you accidentally bump into people, they would compete to apologise. This would not happen in a city like Hong Kong.

I used to do those things like second nature.   But the hustle and bustle, the constant strife for efficiency in a city like Hong along has influenced me that I have almost forgotten how awesome it was connecting with people you shouldered pass. I have almost forgotten to make an effort to show gratitude towards others. I have almost forgotten the power of random acts of kindness.

As technology advances, many jobs that are used to be done by humans are now being replaced. Just look at the self check-out services implemented in many supermarkets. Efficiency meant that we sacrificed the time and chances to connect. To have a glimpse of someone else’s life for a brief moment. To remember what it feels like to share ideas momentarily with someone you had absolutely no prior relationship with but found insights and common ground with them. 

Efficiency is costly. The internet had connected us like never before. However, technology has also costed us chances to connect. Physical connection that gives us a sense of belonging or even our sense of identity that we all need as human beings.

Paradigm Shift in Action

Technology has changed the way we travel completely. 

You see these tag lines in the news all the time. Yet it is not until you visit the same places years after that you get a chance to compare and reflect on the journey now and then, that you start to appreciate and realise this fact. 

Life would be so much easier if I were a student in the UK now than it was 10 years ago. All the routes and maps are just at the tip of your finger. You can get to anywhere you want even if you don’t speak a word of English. That was impossible back in the days when I was a student.

I remember my sister and I used to do so much research before we travel. We could almost recite all the routes and would even quiz each other before we start our journey; the flights, the train journeys, more train journeys, and taxi ride. The journey from home to school was both exciting and daunting. It was a bit like a car driving through a deep forest at night with only one headlight. We were never certain about what would happen next. When we made it back to school, we would literally feel like we conquered the world and nothing was impossible.

Technology allows us to see the world so much more as everything seems to be more accessible. But the joy of travelling (and the preparation of it), experiencing and embracing the feeling of uncentainty, and the sense of adventure faded away with the upsurge of wifi and smartphones.

Mistakes 

The saying goes if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything. 

I would go as far as saying if you don’t make mistakes on a daily basis, you aren’t really living and learning.

But simply making mistakes isn’t going to make you better. 

Reflect and do better next time.

Having a teachable spirit would take us a long way in life. Let’s keep learning and making mistakes! 

Disposable culture

I am guilty of this. I replace my phone before it breaks and I have a whole wardrobe of clothes that I don’t wear.

People used to own only one pair of jeans or drive the same car for years. They would go to a shop for repairing should there be any problems. During the industrial revolution, there was a technology boom and products got into the mass market; consequently, business models have changed. Nowadays, many products have planned obsolescence, meaning things were made to fail so that customers would have a constant need to replace or ‘upgrade’ their current products, even before they were broken. Very often, it is more expensive to repair than to replace your favourite pair of glasses.

I’m not going to get into the issues regarding the environment, waste management, cheap labour, and all that. But I’m going to talk about the attitude of consumerism that has trickled down and changed our attitude towards important but intangible things such as the way we handle relationships. Unlike materialistic goods, we didn’t commit to relationships betting it to fail in the first place. Nonetheless, divorce rates have increased and many opt for staying unmarried as people are less willing to tease out problems and conquer challenges together. 

Of course there are more than just one factor resulting in the phenomenon; urbanisation, change in gender roles, etc. all play a part. However, we can see elements of consumerism in relationships, the way we work in our jobs, or even perception on the way we look.

The picture below is a lamp that was first switched on 115 years ago and is still shining in a fire station in California. Perhaps a great first step is to be able to see and treat things with more respect and love. 

The Centennial Light has shone for 115 years (Credit: Bill Nale/Wikipedia)