Small Acts, Big Change

Today, I’ve spent much of the day in reflection.

This morning, I learned of the violent attacks on innocent lives in Brussels, and my heart grew heavy. May the victims and all of those affected find peace in this time of brokenness.

I knew what came next—the rhetoric that damned Islam as a whole for the inexcusable actions of a few and further pushed away the overwhelming many who practice that religion peacefully. In despair, I watched on social media and the news as people harassed and threatened innocent Muslims; they were responding to violence with violence which will no doubt breed more violence. I wanted to close my ears to it. I wanted to pretend I lived in some other world where the political and social discourse regarding these things doesn’t terrify me.

But this is the world that we occupy, and we have to figure out how to make this world a better place. As I’ve been thinking, reading, and talking to others today, I’ve come to believe that the change we need can only begin with what might be considered small actions from individual people.

Indeed, my heart was heavy before I decided to log onto this blog and read my peers’ insights. Last week, they were tasked with making a difference in the lives of others armed only with five dollars, some post-it notes, and a whole lot of positive energy. I didn’t have the opportunity to participate in this project, but reading about some of their experiences and the joy and fulfillment that they found in the activity really lifted me up. How much more must it have lifted up the people on the receiving end of the kindness? [Side note: go read their blog posts! They are very smart and kind people.]

Individuals from my class decided to show kindness in a small way to complete strangers, and it had an effect on so many people—the “givers,” the “receivers,” me, and anyone else that might read their posts. A small change that radiated outward.

That’s what I want to encourage any of my readers to do: Make a small change, commit a small act of kindness, show a complete stranger some love and then watch it radiate outward! Trust me, it makes a difference.

When we decide that we want to make a difference, when we decide to show love instead of hate, when we decide to decrease the distance between ourselves and others, the reality of the world changes for people. Imagine if not only my classmates decided to make a positive difference in someone’s life, but also the entirety of JMU. Imagine if other schools wanted to get involved. We could start a movement. We could make a big change.

You might think, “How does this affect the attacks in Brussels?” I’ll admit that the actions I encourage do not immediately change the physical and emotional pain of the people affected by this tragedy. I know there is still darkness, hate, and despair in the world, but inaction will get us nowhere, and we have to start somewhere in order to move towards a more positive world. These small acts of kindness and the positive action of individuals can make an enormous change when combined. There may still be darkness, but I have to believe in the hope of a better, gentler world for the future.

And all I have to believe in is the power of love to cover hatred.

The power of you and me joining together in small acts of kindness to cover large acts of meanness.

The power of light to cover darkness.

Of hope to cover despair.

I choose to believe.

 

-R. Chase Dunn

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