As I walked the pavements of London, I saw a woman cycling her bicycle alongside a stream of cars, all making their way home from work. Almost at the instant that I saw this cyclist, her shopping bag gave way, spilling several apples, that rolled on to road, until they came to a stop right in the middle of the road. Too far away to lend assistance, I watched as the woman fought to balance her bicycle and at the same time, to pick up the apples. Some people walked past on the pavement, the cars continued on. Not one person stopped to give assistance. Not one car paused to allow the woman more room. In this one moment was a clear demonstration of everything that I believe to be wrong in our modern societies.
How would you have acted? Would you have run to give aid and help. Perhaps you would, but ask yourself truthfully, would you really? It is all too easy to say to yourself that it is not my problem, that she will be okay, that someone else will stop, that I would like to stop but I really have to get to that appointment, to get home to put on the dinner, to go to the gym, to walk the dog, to pick up the kids. The excuses go on and on. Our modern and sophisticated society seems to always tell us that it is some else's responsibility, to provide an excuse for not acting, and for not being held accountable for your actions.
Here's another situation you will find yourself in. You walk along the street and you see some litter laying on the pavement. What do you do? Do you stop, pick it up and carry it to the nearest rubbish bin? Or do you mutter to yourself about the state of people these days and complain about where your tax payments have gone and leave the litter exactly where it is? It's not your job to clean up after someone else is it? That is the job of the local council, that is what unemployed people should do to earn their welfare, that is what criminals should do to help make amends for their wrong doings. Why should you do it? After all, you did not put it there.
As far as I can see, the trend in our society is to become annoyed, to complain about how things are, to accept them, to turn a blind eye, and to pass on the responsibility. This is wrong. Some people will say that capitalism is to blame because it breeds a culture of selfishness and greed. It does not. That is just another excuse that you give yourself for your lack of action. We are all part of our society and as such, we each have a direct responsibility to make the society in which we wish to live. We are all accountable for the state of things. It is not the fault of the government, our economic system, materialism, the local council, immigrants, nor the youth. It is your fault.
In the Bible, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. The Samaritan was the person who took pity on the man at the side of the road who was in great need of help. This only occurred after other respected persons (a priest, a levite) in the society at the time had passed him by and done nothing. This is exactly the same as now. People are walking past, turning away, and doing nothing. It is not a question of religion. Neither is it a question of race, gender, or age. It is for each of us to do something to turn this around and to change it.
I was in New Zealand recently, at Lake Taupo. As I walked from my motel into the town one morning, I saw on a picnic table discarded fast food wrappers and cartons. It made a horrible mess. No more than 5 metres (15 feet) away was a rubbish bin. At first, I muttered to myself about the laziness of people and I walked past the table. But I could only walk a few more paces before I was forced to turn around. I walked purposely back to the table, picked up all of the litter and put it into the rubbish bin. A woman passed me by as I did this and gave me a big smile. This was my reward for my unselfish action. Later that morning, I thought some more about what had happened. By clearing the table, I made a woman happy. I also made sure that from that moment on, no one else would see it, no one else would have cause to complain and to have negative thoughts which could spoil their morning. I made sure that the picnic table could be used again. It meant that the local council workers could focus on more important matters. I did something positive. The ripples of my action spread wider than I had first realised. Indirectly, I had touched the lives of others in a positive way. I had contributed to the society in which I found myself in a positive way and for that, I felt good inside. I took that situation and made it into a positive experience.
I am no saint. I am not perfect by any means. What I do want to do though, is to make a difference. I want to know that I tried, that I did not sit idly, that I did not just complain and moan about the state of the world and society. I want to know that I helped people, that I reached out through my actions to enrich those around me. I have a strong belief that if others started to act in a positive way, to begin to take care of those around them and the societies in which they lived, others would begin to do the same. Once a cause gathers momentum, it quickly experiences a snowball effect. The minority becomes the norm.
We each have the power to make society in the form that we wish to see and experience it. Each of us is responsible. Most of us are luck enough to live in a free society, we enjoy freedoms of choice. This is your choice. Do or not do. You have the power to change. It only takes one spark to light a fire. Take your energy and do something good. Quit complaining, stop saying it is someone else's fault, and start doing something positive about it. Each of us can make the difference. Many ripples that join in harmony become a wave. Let's create waves and make the change. The time is now.