The Change Starts With YOU

Image depicting changing oneself
Taken from Lolly Daskal

Talking about change, I am reminded of Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat for a white man, and by doing so, she violated the law of segregation in Alabama, and got arrested for the same. Her case was then taken up by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and they formally challenged the legality of segregation, knowing the risks all too well. But this did not stop her from demanding basic human rights.

She could have chosen to do just as she was told and be oppressed for decades to come. But, she stood up for herself, and by doing so, she stood up for others as well.

Change is not easy. It comes slow, with risks, failures and criticism. And, it is often the fear of those that stops one from taking a step towards change. That first step is the hardest and scariest part of the process because it makes one vulnerable. But, it also opens doors for freedom and great opportunities. The decision to bring change is a tough one and staying on that path by actually putting in efforts is equally tough and important but as they say, nothing good ever comes easy.

Wanting to change the world is a noble thought and I am sure all of us want to change the world in our own unique ways but where and how do we start? Well, it is like the lyrics of the song I’d Love To Change The World by Ten Years After- “I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do, so I’ll leave it up to you…” , which brings our aspirations to change the world we live in to an abrupt end.

Coming back to the story of Rosa Parks, I believe that when she said NO to the bus driver on being told to do what every other black person was expected to do in a public transport, she was not trying to change the world or bring a revolution. She was just standing up for herself. She was bringing the change in herself - for herself. 

Every great leader, be it Nelson Mandela, or Princess Diana, or Martin Luther King Jr., or Mother Teresa, when they began their journey towards bringing change, they did not know that they would influence the whole world, they were not sure of their success either, but they did it anyway and it was their consistency and perseverance that brought change on such a large scale.

Mahatma Gandhi’s words “be the change you wish to see in the world” are not unheard by any of us. Gandhi was a man of truth and non-violence and believed in the simplest acts of kindness and bravery. He said that if only we would bridge the gap between what we do and what we are capable of doing, most of the world’s problem would be solved, and he was right. The leap from what we do and what we are capable of doing is where change can be seen. The moment we invest our abilities towards changing ourselves, we are already halfway there.

At some point of time in my life, I came across a quote that said, “Everything you want is right outside your comfort zone”, and looking back at everything that I have achieved or people around me have achieved, I realize how true that quote is. It’s only when we get out of our ordinary routine and do things differently that we achieve something extraordinary. That is what change is - stepping out of the ordinary.

Change is never comfortable; it is not supposed to be. If it was, everybody would do it. But, as uncomfortable as it is, it is also necessary. When we dream of changing the world, we often forget that in order to change the billions out there, we must first change ourselves. That is where it’s supposed to start. We must believe in ourselves. The world may or may not follow but in our hearts, we know we took the leap and made the journey and reached where we planned to.  As Miley Cyrus said, it’s the climb that matters.

One of my favourite Hollywood films, Patch Adams, is based on a man of the same name, who brought a revolution, starting with himself. After being suicidal for a long time, he decided to get better and change things around him. He is now a physician, comedian, social activist, clown and author. He gave hope to himself, and by doing so, he gave hope to others. It was only when he could change himself that he was able to bring it to others.

Over the years, I have taken decisions that I was hesitant to take because I knew that taking those roads meant opening up to new changes and like everyone else, it made me uncomfortable too, but looking back at those decisions, I am glad I made them and allowed myself to change for the better.

To change is natural. To be afraid of change is also natural. But what makes us human is doing it anyway. We are members of the human race, and rather than being defined by our ability to change the world, we are defined by the choices that we make for ourselves and what we do to become better human beings, because that is where the change really starts.