We Can Change the World (Yes, You and I)

We Can Change the World (Yes, You and I)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

The above is a quote we’ve all heard. It’s a quote we’ve all, at one point or another, most likely been inspired by. But most of all, it’s a quote that only a few in this world really take to heart and act upon.

Let me back up.

A few months ago, I was out for my morning walk with Banks when I ran into a neighbor who was also out with his pups. As always in our friendly Finger Lakes neighborhood, we stopped to chat. What ensued was an engaging conversation with a very low-key, humble guy. This is notable, considering what he does: He’s an award-winning, worldwide director who produces documentaries like A Closer Walk (on the global AIDS epidemic, 2003), Not My Life (on human trafficking and modern slavery, 2011), and more, and he was just gearing up for another trip to Europe for work.

When I got back to my house, I watched some of his clips. I was astounded. I purchased and dove into the full Not My Life documentary, and could feel my heart clenching. How could human trafficking and slavery be so rampant not just abroad, but right here at home in the US — and how could I not know?

Becoming aware of the world around us

The director I met that day is Robert Bilheimer. He produces his documentaries around the world in order to create awareness of issues that matter to him. Not My Life is a roundup of several stories — stories of women and children in countries like Ghana, Sudan, India, Guatemala, the US, and more — who are modern-day slaves in one way or another. He’s rounded up incredible support to create important pieces of work, and in this words, he’s changing the way the world is, one story at a time.

As my heart stayed tight that day after watching Not My Life, I couldn’t stop thinking — thinking about the issues we face in this world (those that we know about, and don’t), but more importantly, about how easy it is to think that we can’t make a difference.

After all, you are only one person. I am only one person. I am only an artist. I am only a mother. I am only a business owner.

But here’s the thing: Robert Bilheimer is “only” one guy, living in a small town in New York’s Finger Lakes.

You have the opportunity to change the world (yes, you)

For you, it might be education. Or clean water. Or animal rights. Or the environment. Or cancer. Or homelessness.

Consider the cause that speaks to you the most, and go after finding a way to make change. It doesn’t have to be money — there are so many ways to give. Your time; your skills; your presence.

We’ll all make connections with people at certain times in our lives and though we may not know it in the moment, there’s a higher reason for it. I didn’t meet Robert on his morning walk that day for nothing. It’s all about being aware. Aware of the world. And aware of the opportunity.

Start today

The first step is allowing yourself to be aware. The second is putting yourself out there. The third is believing that you can make change.

There’s no shortage of causes to care for in this world. But don’t let that overwhelm you, as I have before.

After all, I am one woman, living on a dirt road in a small town in New York’s Finger Lakes, who is finding out how much impact we can all have. Our digital world is an ever-shrinking place, where social media and email make it possible to extend our reach beyond any geographical borders.

Where will you start? What will you change?

PS — A great place to start: Join me in supporting Robert’s work.