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Monday, November 15, 2010

Be the CHANGE you wish to see in the world

"We must become the change we want to see in the world," these powerful words were spoken by Mahatma Gandhi. I have heard this quote countless times (as I am sure you have too). It is to-the-point, powerful, and easy to remember. But when was the last time you really thought about being the change you wish to see in the world?

…I worry about the depletion of water, but besides turning off my faucet when I brush my teeth, I haven't altered my water usage to being more efficient. I worry about global warming, but I still drive my car places that I could walk to….

The list could continue, but this past week I experienced how empowering it can be to be the change you wish to see in the world. My class is vying to win the Can Food Drive contest at our school (this is done by bringing in the most cans). In years past, all of my classmates, like me, had participated in the Can Food Drive, but on an uncommitted level. This year is different. Our class is committed to collecting cans in our houses, buying cans at the store with any extra money we have, and asking for the help of our families and neighbors. My class has brought in hundreds of cans, all of which will be donated to the local food pantry providing for the needy families in our neighborhood.

Hunger is a problem that many wish to eliminate, but like conserving water or saving the planet, it is never on the forefront of our minds. I always thought that bringing in a few token cans for the food drive was doing my part in the fight against hunger, but if I don't go out of my way to bring in as many cans as possible, then who will? That is the mindset that we need to have while resolving issues…me/you/we need to be the first to change in order for others to follow.

Think about this:

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."

~Vince Lombardi

Take a moment to think about something you have been fully committed too. Think about the effects of the commitment…

Now think about a time when you half-heartedly did something. Think about the effects of the lack of commitment….

(Please comment about either a time when you were committed or when you were not!)

Being committed to the Can Food Drive has made me happy. Sure, winning the contest would be nice, but the process of buying into an idea, or in this case event, has magnified the implications of how fulfilled I feel for contributing to the best of my abilities.

On a similar note…

My class had the honor of meeting Carl Wilkens a few weeks ago. Mr. Wilkens was the only American to stay in Rwanda during the Rwandan genocide. He came to my school and talked to us about his time in Rwanda. Mr. Wilkens saved many lives while in Rwanda by helping many people get food and providing a safe place to live. He was faced with adversity, loss, and obstacles. It would have been easy to move out of Rwanda, but he was committed to helping, and the best way he knew how to do that was to stay. His actions are honorable, heroic, and inspiring.

As a student who is always looking for a way to help better the world…but never really knowing how to make a big impact… hearing Mr. Wilkens's story and participating in the Can Food Drive have been outlets to think about how I can, "be the change I wish to see in the world." I believe that quote is a big part of education. Yes, we go to school to learn about reading, writing, math, and science, but like I said in my older post, that is only half of it. School teaches us how to communicate, problem solve, time manage, work with others, respect others opinions and defend our own opinions. Mr. Wilkens optimizes the things one can accomplish with a good head on their shoulders. Likewise, the Can Food Drive is proving to be something that has expanded the boundaries of our classroom. We are working together to optimize our can buying power, we are communicating by sending buyers to Costco with everyone's money, and we have been problem solving by trying to find sponsors.

The Can Food Drive and Carl Wilkens changed the way I think and have opened my eyes to the impact one can have if they are committed. You don't have to commit to a lot of things, but find something that makes you happy, and pursue that to the best of your abilities.

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful"

~Herman Cain


  1. This is a very powerful post Ali!
    I agree with you that really committing to a project makes a world of difference. I had always participated in Relay for life, but it wasn't until I captained a team last year and organized fund raising events that I really did love it.
    It's much more rewarding and energizing.
    I'm glad our class had the opportunity to see Mr. Wilkens and participate in the canned food drive.

  2. There is definitely a powerful sense of purpose that emanates from strong people. Being around them can be pretty heady stuff. Of course the hard part is to keep your momentum up when you are doing it alone.

    I might suggest that being completely committed to one specific passion doesn't necessarily make one happy or a well rounded person. I have a lot of passions I follow, a lot of responsibilities too. While my greatest passion right now is education, I still need to leave room for my family, church, and plain old down time.

    If you are the kind of person that can completely sell out and go 100% after one goal you may be satisfied doing so, I wouldn't be.