Changing the World?
You’ve more than likely heard someone say it before: “This will change the world.” Chances are, you’ve said it, or at least thought it, yourself. Perhaps it was about something you’d stumbled upon – another person’s idea or product. Then again, it might have been your own idea, your own product. Maybe you’ve even thought it about yourself.
This tends to happen when we’re younger, idealistic. Before the world gets to us and shows us how it really works. The sad truth is, most things that could change the world never will, at least not in any significant way. Just take new products, for example. It’s estimated that over 90% of new products fail. Much of the time, when a person introduces a new product to the market, they do so thinking it has the ability to change lives for the better. This means that over 90% of potentially-life-changing ideas, concepts, and products fail before they ever have a significant amount of recognition from the larger portion of society.
In some small way, each person does change the world in their own fashion. But the delusions of grandeur people have of changing the world on a massive scale are often just that – delusions. With over seven billion people in the world, the chances of any single individual having widespread impact are minuscule. Perhaps this sounds harsh, but the almost-fairy-tale concept we preach to children, that they can be and do anything they want is, in all reality, a gross simplification of reality. The truth is, people cannot do all things. They cannot be all things.
So, what does this mean? Do we all give up and stop trying to make the world a better place? Absolutely not. Why? Because even if your life only makes a small impact in the grand scope of world affairs, it has the potential to make a massive impact on a smaller, personal scale.
Something Simpler, Something Beautiful
Voltaire, an 18th century playwright and social critic, espoused a similar concept in his work, Candide, where the titular character determines to “cultivate his own garden.” In other words, to mind his own business rather than trying to solve the problems and alleviate the evils of the world.
Ever since the concept of tending one’s own garden was introduced to me during a required western civilization course, the idea has stuck with me, growing and spreading its roots further into my mind. It’s easy to give in to despair since we often can’t act to change the world for the better, but in doing so, we forget that we can change our lives for the better. We can live peacefully with our neighbors, work well, teach our ideals, and produce something good that lives on after us.
Enter again the concept of legacy, first spoken of in my previous blog. Leaving a legacy is far more complex than being recognized by millions of people after you’re gone, but at the same time, it’s far simpler. Shaping a lasting legacy extends from our thoughts, our ideas, our lifestyles. Legacy need not even be attached to your name. If, in a hundred years, my descendants have inherited a lifestyle of peaceful living and love toward neighbor, but know not my name, I’ll have considered the legacy I sought to leave accomplished.
But of course, I do hope my descendants know who I am. As noted before, the hobbies I enjoy are mainly creative, aimed at producing something which can last long after I’m gone, hopefully in order to give my progeny a better understanding of who I was.
Are you enjoying this contemplation series? Consider reading the next blog on the benefits of hobbies.
Article written by Braden Norwood