Reading the Montreal Gazette this morning and came across the letter of the day, entitled, “You want change? Start with yourself.” I believe it was written with the student protests in mind, but it’s message is very wide-reaching. It’s a very powerful, thought provoking letter written by Montrealer, Ysabel Viau, a writer and communication specialist. Here’s the letter in it’s entirety:
You’ve got a problem with the world today? Don’t scream, protest or demonstrate about it; do something to change your own ways first.
You’ve got a problem with the exploitation of forests or the growing pollution issues? Stop using paper. Stop buying useless stuff. Recycle.
You’ve got a problem with the exploitation of the tar sands, the destructive gas emissions? Get rid of your car.
You’ve got a problem with the banks and the money they “take from you?” Pull your money out.
You’ve got a problem with your government? Vote to change it.
You’ve got a problem with unemployment? Create your own job.
You’ve got a problem with the overloaded health-care system? Stop eating junk food, stop smoking, stop using it for any and all insignificant ailments.
You’ve got a problem with the economy’s unfair disparities? Encourage local entrepreneurs; buy local. Stop buying stuff made in China (yep, that means your big-screen TV and pretty much everything else in your home).
You’ve got a problem with consumerism and big corporations? Stop buying from them. Stop shopping at Walmart, stop buying commodities en masse, stop buying gasoline.
You’ve got a problem with poverty? Give some of yourself and your stuff away.
You want to change the world? just do it. Stop bitching, stop complaining, stop blaming others, stop accusing or demeaning, stop breaking. Just do it. Just do what you want done yourself. Look at your own life. Change your own ways. Take responsibility. Take it upon yourself to make your world a better place.
Violence is not the answer. It will destroy your world. It will destroy our world. It will bring on a change you do not want – a change that is harsh, radical, very much unlike the world you envision.
You want to change the world? Assume responsibility in making the choices that you believe are needed. Before asking others to do it, do it yourself first. If we all assume our own responsibility instead of waiting for others to assume it for us, the world will change. Without cries, without pain, without unnecessary damage or death.
You want to change the world? Just do it. Just be the damn change.
I believe in a better world. But most of all, I believe in freedom. I do not believe in bitching and screaming and complaining. I do not believe in following herds in the streets.
I do not believe in breaking someone else’s possessions or hurting others just because I am mad as hell. I believe that if I want change, I take it upon myself to do it. I believe in freedom.
Basically, we can complain about things, but at the end of the day, what’s that going to accomplish? Or we can take action and do our best to lead by example. You can’t force people to do anything, but you can lead by example.
I think that’s what Gandhi was talking about:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.“
Lao Tzu said it very eloquently too:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself, if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”