"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Friday, October 26, 2007

Be the Change

Lately, I have been trying to adopt one of my favorite quotes as a way of living. I have this quote on my wall in my office, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". It is a quote from Gandhi.
I am a bit ashamed to say that I did not know that--I had heard the quote before, but it was lost in my memory somewhere. Then, I was watching an Oprah show about a group of American women who had lost their husbands in the Iraq war who were reaching out to Iraq women who had lost their husbands also. I was so touched by what these women were doing, reaching beyond their grief and anger. And one of the women said this quote. It really touched me-- and I looked it up online to find out the origin.
Since then, I have thought a lot about those words. There are a lot of things I get fired up about, angry about, and want to change. And the simple fact is, not doing anything about anything does nothing. And also, doing small things does matter. Being compassionate in small ways does matter.
So, when I am frustrated (especially when traveling--people seem to do stupid things all around me in airports and on airplanes)--before I say something rude (even though it might be deserved!)--I say to myself "Be the change..." and usually it works.
I learned a great lesson the other day in Barnes and Noble. It was on a Sunday, and I got into line in the store. The line had gotten quite long and there weren't enough cashiers. A woman, while talking on her cell phone suddenly came up to the side of the line and asked if she could break in front of me. "I am really in a hurry", she said. I was annoyed, because I felt this was a rude request, but I thought "be the change" and motioned her in. The guy behind me let out an audible sigh and murmured more than a few four-letter words. I think I started to literally sweat.
She stayed on her cell phone, which annoyed me. Finally she went up to the counter with her purchase, the guy behind me getting louder all the while. When she got up to the counter, she told the person on the other end of the phone, "I have to get her out of here now, she isn't doing well". About that time, someone else rolled an elderly woman in a wheelchair, who was bald and wearing some sort of gloves for medical reasons, near the line. She had obviously had chemo and was ill. The woman with the phone said, "I am buying your books, mom, I am almost done."
The amazing thing was not what I had done, but as we were still waiting in line, another person came up to the area between me and the guy behind me, thinking that was where you entered the line. He realized his mistake, and started to go to the back of the now long line. But the guy behind me, who had only moments before been cursing, motioned him in front of him, letting him break in line. That absolutely made my day. His heart had changed in just a moment!
It might not always work out that way, it might indeed just be a rude person making a request, but better to err on the side of caution. I would have hated myself later if I had realized that I hadn't let that woman in the line. That is not who I want to be.
It was a lesson for all of us standing there...and I loved that it spread in just a moment. Be the change you wish to see in the world....even if it is one moment at a time.

Kim >^..^<


Cassandra October 26, 2007 at 11:12 AM  

A year or so ago, I adopted a RAK philosophy-- Random Acts of Kindness-- and try to incorporpare RAKs as often as possible. Whether it be letting someone out in traffic, a surprise call, card, email or message to a friend, or helping a stranger, anything to make life better. Last week, I sent a surprise parcel to a friend in England with grits, cornbread mix and biscuit mix to bring a little Southern Comfort to her.


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