My three year old son Ben has recently found a new catch phrase which he keeps repeating back to us whenever he doesn’t feel he’s getting our full attention or what he wants instantly …
It’s actually pretty funny whenever he says it, because as his parents we feel like, ‘When is ever not about you?!!’
In fact, right now almost all of our waking hours revolve around caring for this little person, and meeting all of his needs.
But of course, he doesn’t see or understand how much of our energy revolves around keeping him safe, loved, well provided for and happy, because he is only three. And that is still an acceptable age at which to think the whole world is all about you.
The voice of selfishness
But it’s a pretty poignant reflection of what the voice of selfishness sounds like in all of us – even as adults too.
Maybe we don’t articulate it quite as loudly and directly as our toddlers, but if I’m honest, it’s still a question that takes up too much room in my thoughts and my life. Am I alone here? I suspect not…
And the truth is that even as adults, many of us need to get much better at challenging ourselves to ask, ‘What about others?’ too.
Because from the chaos of Brexit in the UK to the plight of babies being separated from parents by officials at the US/Mexican borders right now, the growing numbers of homeless sleeping on our streets, or the horrors of teenagers being shot in their high schools, we all get the kind of society that we vote for.
And I don’t just mean at the ballot box either…
Because we all help to shape the kind of society we live in through our small choices of action or inaction. And yet how many of us believe that we are powerless to really change anything or make a difference?
Be the change
How often do we tune out from the debates, turn away from news that’s uncomfortable to hear, and switch on entertainment channels that let us just numb out instead… ? I am just terrible for doing this !
I mean, why take an interest in the state of your country, city, community or neighbourhood, when you can watch a cool Netflix show instead?
And honestly, I am not judging anyone for having this kind of mentality more than myself…
But lately I just can’t escape that nagging feeling that we were somehow born for more, and that as Christians we have been called to be actively involved and engaged in the world around us, just as the Jesus we claim to follow was.
There’s that well-worn quote from Mahatma Gandhi that I’ve always loved, which goes like this:
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”
And so instead of getting stuck on that age old question of ‘But where do I even begin?’ which tends to leave you feeling overwhelmed before you’ve even started; why not start by asking, ‘What matters to me the most?’
Because it’s a question worthy of giving some attention.
Because whatever bugs you, annoys you, and gets under your skin, whatever makes it a bit hard for you to sleep in good conscience at night … that’s where you should start.
What matters enough to you personally to move you from a position of apathy and inaction, into energy and movement?
It could be local or global.
It could be something small or large.
In a way, it doesn’t even really matter what that frustration point is for you; so long as you decide to do something positive about it.
Start a local group in your community for struggling mums.
Use your voice to campaign and call out injustice.
Write letters to your local MP about issues affecting your street.
Choose to boycott certain products or companies.
Read up and get better informed.
Open your home up to those who are lonely.
Harness the power of social media to share encouragement and truth with others.
But whatever you do, never, never doubt that your small actions can make a difference – when you move beyond the question of ‘what about me?’ to ‘what about you?’ too.