Be the change you wish to see in the world” is a saying often attributed to Mahatma Ghandi. As I looked for the quote itself in order to include a link, I came across a New York Times article called, “Falser Words Were Never Spoken”!

Upshot is that the closest thing Ghandi appears to have said is this:  “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Certainly different from Be the Change…  yet not entirely unrelated.  Both formulations speak to our attitudes and actions as we consider our role in the world, and perhaps also as we seek to make the world a kinder, saner, more equitable place.  While personal and social transformation do go hand and hand, there is no suggestion that personal transformation alone is sufficient.  It takes many, working together, often over long periods of time to effect real change.

Yet it’s undeniable that when we change ourselves, the “field” changes.  Our actions matter absolutely.  And this is where my thoughts and hopes and fears find themselves today, this day before the US presidential election, on which, in my opinion, so much is riding.

We cannot control the outcome of the election, no matter how much we care, how much soul searching we bring to bear.  We can vote, help get out the vote, talk to people, but ultimately we are not in charge.  Still, what we have within us, what we care about, what we do, who we are, affects  (in no small measure, I might add), that which is outside of us; it does matter to the course and tendencies in the world — regardless of any particular outcome, even an election.  I find that scary yet, nonetheless encouraging and motivating.

The article also addresses a piece that Henry David Thoreau offers about where we put our attention, the choices we make.  Thoreau says that,  “if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Again, we may not know the outcome of our particular actions, but if we are working to change ourselves in ways that move toward our dreams, and what we care about, there will be successes, movement, transformation.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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