“Do I dare Disturb the Universe?” ― T.S. Eliot,
T.S Eliot once posed this query in one of his poems. And it’s a good question. Another good question would be: Can I disturb the universe? Just me? There is something powerful about the singularity of the difference one person can make – the idea that with all that is outside of your control, that there might be a few things you can do to impact others in a positive way.
I recently read Jody Williams’ biography, My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize. (2013) Reading about her work to create legislation to ban land mines – a weapon of war that lingers for decades after a conflict is over and a weapon that cannot tell the difference between an armed combatant and an innocent child – is compelling. And Jody’s story is more than a little intimidating. While there were many people involved in creating the awareness and ultimately the instruments to ban land mines around much of the world, it was Jody’s leadership that made this idea a reality. The idea of one person championing an idea and getting other people to buy into it is powerful. Powerful and yet overwhelming. Overwhelming because we often don’t know where to begin. So here’s my “starter list” for those who would like to “disturb the universe.” Maybe winding paths to changing the world start small – and very close to the world where you are.
1. Connect people who belong together. Great connections net greater impacts. At times our paths cross with just the right person at the right time for the right purpose. But sometimes “like minds” need an introduction. If you want to start a catalyst that might have potential impact, why not introduce two people who are “cut from the same cloth” and see if their connection explodes into something bigger.
2. Forgive someone. People are human. You are human. People make mistakes and they hurt each other, either intentionally or unintentionally. Life is too long to keep an account of everyone who wrongs you. So let it go – forgive others. There is nothing more compelling than forgiveness and redemption. You’d be surprised how forgiveness changes your life and as a result, the world around you.
3. Find something you believe in and be a part of it. You don’t have to think of a new idea. You don’t have to necessarily take all the risks involved in starting an organization or initiating a movement. Just find someone, or some group that’s already doing something that inspires you or that you believe in. And join. Be a part. Help advance something that matters.
4. Listen without trying to solve. Listening is the “non-participatory” part of the dance of communication. Most of us would rather speak than listen. And when we do bother to listen, we usually rush to provide answers and solutions. Next time someone trusts you enough to share their thoughts – see what happens when you simply listen without attempting to fix. Most people want to feel validated. They want to be understood and to know that their feelings and thoughts are reasonable. If they want a solution – they will ask for one. Unless they do – provide understanding before you provide answers.
5. Rescue someone. Just take a look around you and you’ll find people who are lost, discouraged, in trouble and hopeless. In other words, people who are in need of grace. John Stott says it well, “Grace is love that cares, stoops and rescues.” And often those who need rescuing don’t necessarily deserve it. But grace changes everything. It disturbs the universe, changes souls and touches eternity.
“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.” ― Edward Everett Hale