So you are not a “revolutionary” and do not feel comfortable getting involved in high profile movements like Occupy Wall Street or –at the other end of the continuum—the Tea Party. You want to do something worthwhile, to make a positive difference; but “changing the world” or the social order is something else altogether. Do little things count?
As it turns out, the big issues only come around every once in a while. Maybe you will have an opportunity to be part of a game changing movement once or twice in your lifetime–if you are lucky. Embry and I were young and in the right place and right time in the early 1960s when the civil rights movement reshaped America. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for us though the role we played was very small. Some are maintaining that the era we are in now represents an opportunity to correct the class and economic inequalities in the US, but the jury is certainly still out on that one. One thing is for sure: the stakes are high, and the direction the US takes at this critical time will have a lasting impact. Opportunities to get involved, to take a stand, will be on the table.
But what about doing the “little things”—helping out at a soup kitchen, tutoring an inner city kid, delivering meals on wheels, coaching a Little League team, providing transportation to disabled seniors, being a Big Brother, visiting shut-ins, hammering nails for Habitat for Humanity, serving on a non-profit board or simply being supportive to ordinary people you know who may be going through a hard time? What about taking an unpopular stand for something you know is right even though it hardly falls into the earth shaking category? What about giving money to charitable organizations involved in domestic or overseas work or even participating in a work camp or a hands-on project? Do these little things count?
In an ideal world there would not be any need for homeless shelters, public housing, food stamps or free medical clinics for the poor because there would not be any “poor.” People would have good jobs and nice homes, families would be solid, all children would get a good education, and high-quality affordable health care would be available for all. That is not the planet we live on, however, and all utopian efforts to make it such have failed.
And the irony is that even if somehow we could create a society and a world that was just and prosperous, the little things would still be just as important as they are now. These little things turn out not to be little at all and often make a difference in the quality—and even the meaning—of life to another human being. And that will always be so.
Do little things count? You bet they do. They make all the difference in the world.