When Feeling Powerless Crushes Your Desire to Change the World

It all started some years back, when I was lying in my bed after a long day at school and my thoughts began to wander. It had been a tiresome day and my bed felt extra comfortable. The softness of the mattress, the smell of the newly washed bed sheets and knowing that I did not have to worry about monsters underneath my bed. Life was good. I felt gratitude. Nevertheless, I also felt an odd feeling of guilt.  I started to think about all those who were not as lucky as me. Those who see the grass as their mattress and the leaves as their duvets and pillows. Children who do not fear monsters, because they are more worried about if there will be a tomorrow.  A sudden urge to do something rushed through me. A thought that would be stuck with me the rest of my life; I had to help, it was my duty as a human being. But how could I help? Who would listen to a “kid”? I felt powerless and gave up before I had even started.

Some time later, a meeting with a group of children in India was successful in reviving my urge to help. It was a sunny day and I was enjoying the cold air provided by the air conditioner when I suddenly heard children yelling, “Hurry up!”  I ran out to see what was going on. Some children had managed to climb up one of the trees in our backyard. They were trying to get some fruits off the tree of my garden. I did not mind, but I was worried they would fall down and hurt themselves. I convinced them to come down and talk to me. They told me they were hungry. Naturally, I felt sadness. But at the same time I was happy because I could help. I grabbed some fruits, Indian sweets and water that the little ones could have. They snatched it out of my hands and I had to make sure that everyone got some. We chatted for a while and I asked them if they were in school and they all replied that they had either quit or never been to a school. I further asked if they wanted to go (back) to school. Before any of the others had a chance to say anything, the oldest one quickly said “NO!” I asked why. Silence. “I don’t have time for school,” she said in a voice that contrasted the barely audible sound of her previous answer.

This meeting made me realize that being powerless implied that I could not help everyone, but it did not imply that I could not help anyone. I cannot help the entire world, but I can help one person. And that one person can help another person. Rome was not built in one day… Likewise, we cannot help everyone in a day. I have realized that it is really the small changes that make the big differences. Every single day, I try to help someone in one way or another. It can be something as simple as smiling to a stranger or taking part in a fundraising event. “Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” (Martin Luther King Jr.) Go out and light a candle for a person sitting in the dark. Share your lunch with a homeless person. Write a letter to the government. Go abroad to participate in humanitarian work. Do not make a mistake like me and wait for something that you already have. You might not have the power to help a thousand people or a whole nation, but you do have the power to help at least one person. Be there for someone who has no one, in a world of six billion people. Be there for someone who has not eaten in days, in a world where people throw food for billions. Be there for someone to whom your smile is the only good thing he might experience in days. The world is waiting. Be there.

September 20, 2011 / SIMRAT KAUR / 19 / NORWEGIAN AND INDIAN

Simrat’s family is originally from India, but she was born in Norway and has lived there her entire life. She is a former student of the International Baccalaureate programme and has just started her bachelor’s degree in Political science and human rights. She considers herself extremely lucky because she lives in a country that has been rated world’s most peaceful. When she “grows up”, she would like to have a job where she can participate in bettering other people’s lives.

Simrat published through submissions. If you too would like to publish an article, click here.

One thought on “When Feeling Powerless Crushes Your Desire to Change the World

  1. Pingback: Opinion: When Feeling Powerless Crushes Your Desire to Change the World | The Open Wall

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