We’ve all heard it…but what does Gandhi quote: Be the change you want to see in the world really mean?
We are so busy being other things, we can’t seem to figure out how to “be” the change. Every day we are so busy being other things; some of these things are things we really have to be: earthling, mother, father(you brought them into the world…you get the responsibility), and even a human being. Then there are the other things that we think we “have to” be: wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, mate, rich, poor, angry, happy, in love, worker, part of the team, executive, lawyer, doctor, pilot, professor, and anything else you’re told you have to be. No matter what role or title you decide to take on, and whatever roles and responsibilities your birth affords you – you are an example and someone someone is looking up to or looking to you as an example.
That means your actions and ideals are an example to someone else, that makes you a teacher. This is the essence of what Ghandi was saying:
Since in some frame of reference you are a teacher, your actions are teaching people what to do, how to be a human, how to be a boy, how to be a man, how to be an adult, how to be a girl, how to be an employee, how to feel , and most importantly how to act! This idea of how to act is the most important responsibility that one can afford another. You the teacher teaches every person you are around, especially if they are young, how to “deal with” certain experiences, situations, and moments in their life.
To illustrate this idea a little better: I was taking a walk, something I enjoy doing as many evenings as I can, and I noticed there was a man in the middle of the street yelling at another man about a tree house that was being built in a dilapidated tree in a vacant lot. Man 1(we’ll call him Grog) was grunting and yelling, and it seemed that the words were not as important as the emotion he was outlying. Man 2 (we’ll call him Log) was standing on the sidewalk with no shirt on picking his belly button lint. There were 5 children who stopped playing tag behind Log when Grog began yelling. There was a small game of stick ball and an in depth tea party that was happening just down the street – all of which ended also ended when the yelling began. Screen doors opened and ladies walked out of a few houses waiting for either more yelling or abrupt actions. In all these men had 44 eyes on them…Class was in session. Today, your teachers will be Grog and Log.
Grog must have said something bad by the time I got to the men because Log leaped off the sidewalk and was now screaming slurs in Grog’s face so that the spittle was landing all over the big man’s face. Grog was at a breaking point with a face full of inadvertent spit, and the slurs and accusations that were flying all over and he pushed Log with such a force he was almost back at the sidewalk.
Log flew at Grog…… and that’s where we all met.
By this time, the 44 eyes were now all making a small 200 foot ring around the two men and myself. I looked around me –
1 man twice my size yelling obscenities.
1 man twice my size running at the other man with anger in his eyes.
22 students (Why do I call them students? Read on…this is the essence of the quote)
I spun around and stepped in front of the man running. He told me to “get the fuck out of the way”. Grog stepped up and yelled for me to let “that little pussy who didn’t know the last thing about building a tree house” come at him so he could rearrange his face. I looked at Grog and Log who were adamant that this was not my concern, it was not my business, and unless I wanted to get killed…I should move. A couple of the ladies, I assumed they were their wives, yelled at me to move for my own health.
I wasn’t moving so they just walked around me. I asked them one question:
You see the eyes watching you…is this what you want to show them?
They both answered that it was a good lesson to watch one man beat the other man to show that the other person was the bad person. I smiled and laughed…this stopped them both.
“Let me get this right,” I began. “You’re two are going to sit here and scream at each other like two teenagers who have no ability to control their emotions. You’re two grown men acting like children who are fighting over a toy. So what are you teaching these 44 eyes watching every move you two are making:
1)If you disagree with someone yelling and anger is the solution and how you deal with it.
2) If screaming doesn’t work, or get you the things you want, or doesn’t make you feel good enough – violence is the answer.
Well, let me ask you…when is the violence over? When one of you can’t get up because you’re beaten too bad? When one of you decides to crawl back to your house? When the other person is broken? When the other person is dead? Yes…so you want someone’s child to watch another man beat their father to death or at least bloody? This is your solution to deal with conflict and anger?”
When I finished I figured I’d get hit. They took a deep breath and Grog told Log that he still couldn’t build a tree house, but he could borrow the tools. That was the end of the conflict, I walked away and I began walking again.
We are constantly teaching and showing and demonstrating how to be a good person; however, most of us forget that this is our role. We get caught up in the people we think we are, the people we think we are supposed to be, and all of the things we are supposed to get done in order to uphold these titles and belief systems. We do all of this never remembering that we are being watched by students every moment.
This is what the quote means: BE the change you wish to see in the world.”
Be the change and you become a teacher of “the change”. You become the leader of “the change” movement. By “being the change” you become the example of how one can be the “new person” you speak of, and part of the “new world” you are trying to create.
A man came up to me yesterday and said,” Chad you’d be so proud of me….”
Why, because he sees me as an example of how “we” (the human race) should live. He was telling me a story of how he wanted to hurt someone. I explained that that isn’t the answer. We are all valuable and none of us deserve destruction, violence or pain.
Because of my words, the actions that I propagate, and the way I live – he wants me to be proud that he is living closer to that ideal.
So my final thought and advice: BE however you think the world should be.
- You think the world should be nonviolent or less violent – model it. Eliminate violence from your world, and speak about how you did it to everyone you know and meet.
- You think we should stop eating meet – become a vegetarian or vegan.
- You think we should volunteer more – get out there and start doing it.
- You think we need to feed the homeless – What are you doing? Get out there and start feeding. Start a food drop off.
- You think the world needs to be more nicer….Stop being a grouch and be nice to everyone.
- No matter how you want the world to be – Go BE it!
How are you being the example of how you want the world to be?