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Simple Things You Can Do to “Save” the WorldNovember 5, 2000

One of the fallacies of the day is that, while there are many things bad in the world, there is little any of us can do about it. We have lost faith in ourselves, and leave it up to the politicians and government and others to fix things. But, things grow worse, and instead of realizing we are following the wrong path, we instead grow despondent and cede more authority to others to fix things.

The world will never become a better place, the broken things will never be fixed, and our despair will never be lifted, until we realize that the power to make the world a better place, the power to fix those things that are broken and the power lift us from despair is not within the grasp of politicians or government, but within each of us.

Helping to make the world a better and brighter place does not necessarily involve a lot of hard work and time. Here are some simple things you can do to make the world a better place:

  • Open a door for someone
  • Smile
  • Say “Hello” to your neighbors
  • Call a friend
  • Stop and smell the roses
  • Send a friend a postcard
  • Slow down
  • Plant a tree
  • Spend a few extra minutes with someone you love
  • Laugh out loud
  • Say “Thank you”

It’s not always the big things that count. The little things add up. The little things can make all the difference in the world.

The End of the World?
FLASHBACK from August 28, 1999

As we approach the year 2000, we hear more and more about the “end” coming. Not the end of the 1900’s, but the end of everything. We hear about different prophecies, whether it be Nostradamus, red cattle, etc.–all of them pointing to the end of the world.

These fears were also present in 1899, and as far back in 999. They will probably still be around in another 100 or 1,000 years as well. And, one day, they will be right. The sun will die, and take the Earth with it. Or, maybe there will be a major war which destroys everything. In the end, all things break down and die. One day, it will be our planet. I would hope that, prior to that end, mankind will have colonized other worlds and we won't all die with the Earth.

But, the question remains, when the clock turns to January 1, 2000, will the world come to an end? Will a chain of events begin that will lead to our own destruction?

That question comes up again and again. Some people believe the end is near, others believe life will go on as usual and others just don’t know. Some embrace the end, believing that it is good for this supposed wretched world to end. Others despair, not wanting the end to come and believing there is nothing they can do.

I have two responses to that. To those that believe the world is wretched and worthy of destruction, I say look around. Dwell not on the difficulties and harshness of the world around us, but look at all the beauty and wonders that are out there. The world is great. I remember watching “The Power of Myth” with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers, and I remember Joseph Campbell saying (and I don't know if he was quoting someone or not) that “Eden is, but men do not see it.” There is a lot of bad things going on in the world, but I think we sometimes dwell too much on the bad, and don’t see the good. This leads me to my response to those who believe there is nothing they can do about the supposed end being near: yes, there is.

The thing that everyone can do is look for the silver lining, look for the good things around you. Follow Bobby McFerrin’s advice of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Happy people are more creative, more productive and more inspiring. Emotions spread. If you are letting yourself fall victim to despair, feelings of powerlessness or insignificance, you are part of the problem. Be a part of the solution instead. Be happy, look for the good, be one of the people that can see that “Eden is.”

This is not to say that simply being happy is going to cure the world’s ills. But, it can make a difference, and it is something that everyone can do. Perceptions play a large role in how we see the world around us. Listening to the evening news or the evangelists at their “end of the world” pulpits, one can be lead to believe that everything going on in the world is bad. These things have a way of snowballing. How many homicides and suicides had as their root cause cause the way the perpetrator viewed the world? How many homicides and suicides are caused by happy people? If you allow yourself to feel despair, to feel hopelessness, to feel worthless, you contribute that to the people around you who, in turn, do the same to those around them. If you allow yourself to feel happiness, to feel hopeful, to feel significant, you contribute that to the people around you who, in turn, do the same for those around them. What are you contributing to the people around you?

If you look around, it’s not hard to see the good going on. Recognize and acknowledge it! When people do bad things, they get attention. They get on the news. They earn the ire of people around them. How often do people doing good things get recognized? I don’t just mean the people that save a kid from a burning building, or save a person from drowning. But, the people that do good things in everyday life. The kids who don’t abuse drugs. The husbands who don’t beat their wives. The loners who don’t go on killing sprees. Pat them on the back. Tell them “thank you.” Tell them you appreciate the fact they are good people. Open the door for someone. Practice random acts of kindness. Smile at people; it’s contagious.

I remember reading that Nostradamus said that his prophecies were not of what definitely would be, but of things that might be, that people could change such that they would not come to pass. The fate of the world is in your hands. Do your part to make sure the end is not at hand. Be happy, do good things and pass it along.

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