I see this a lot on animal rescue sites. “You may not be changing the world, but you’re changing someone’s world.” Or something along the lines of “They may be part of your world, but you’re all of their world.”
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to change the world. My personal philosophy is, “If you have the ability to change the world, you have an obligation to do so.” However, when I say this, I mean positively.
When I was in middle and high school, I would go on mission trips. I went to New Orleans after Katrina to gut out houses. I went to South Dakota and worked in soup kitchens and played with disabled kids at a children’s hospital. After school, I tutored kids who had just immigrated to Minnesota and helped them do their homework so they could be successful. I even helped give private oboe lessons to a freshman when I was a senior, making discounted reeds for oboes so that they didn’t sound like a duck when they played.
For me though, this was never enough. I kept thinking, “I’m not changing the world, I’m just doing a few good things.”
When I was on the speech team in high school, my last two years I was in the Original Oratory category, which is persuasive speaking. Many of the kids in this category had similar views as I did in terms of changing the world. However, while their speeches were more along the lines of “The News is horribly biased,” and “We should boycott Walmart.” My speech was “Being gay is genetic, stop discriminating.” True story, it was called, “Do these genes make me look gay?”
Quite different, right? I had the issue of having conservative judges who would rank me last when my content was fantastic. While I procrastinated with some of the writing and memorizing, I still was an alternate to go to the state tournament. I would tell people being bigoted that being hateful was counterproductive and that we should accept people for who they are.
I was bullied as a kid and I refused to stop being super weird because I was perfect just the way I was. Currently, I continue to be weird because I am proud to be really fucking weird.
However, my philosophy began to change after doing the speech about accepting LGBTQ for the way they are.
I had this topic the entire three month season, and my first tournament there was a girl that I was in a round with. I don’t quite remember what her speech was about, but it was something about social injustice, just as mine was. She was super friendly to me, she went to a rural school while I went to the largest high school in Minnesota. She was super chill, and after that tournament, I didn’t see her again until the Sectional Tournament for the Northern Metros.
She was in my third round before the final round, and after I gave my (much more polished) speech, we all shook hands at the end and as I was going back to my school’s team, she tracked me down and asked to talk to me privately.
I remember the conversation almost verbatim, so here’s how it went.
“Leah, right? I don’t know if you remember me, but we were at the St Michael’s tournament together.”
“Oh yeah! How’ve you been? Your speech was great.”
She smiled and continued to talk. “I was hoping to see you since our schools didn’t really compete against each other this season, and I wanted to thank you.” She saw my confusion and began to explain. “You see, I’m bi and I was in the closet until after you gave your speech that first time. For the past two years I was trying to find a way to not be bi anymore, but no matter what I was attracted to guys and girls, and my parents were really homophobic.”
I was stunned. She seemed so happy whenever I saw her. She went on.
“But after your speech, I got the courage to come out to my mom. She used to say that Bi-people were just trying to slice up the pie in their favor, so to speak. She said bis were just greedy, the worst of the gay community. When I came out as bi, I used some of your stats and explained it to her. It went really well. My family accepted me so much better. So I just wanted to say thanks. Keep it up.”
We hugged and I went to my table, stunned. I told my friends but we were all waiting to find out who would go into the final round. Luckily, I made the final round and got fifth place, but at that moment I didn’t care.
I changed her world for the better.
I still think of that moment to make myself feel better when I feel like my life is falling to pieces.
In college, I saw a guy whose car broke down on the side of the road. I picked him up, drove him to his house so he could get the stuff to put gas in his car, and he thanked me nonstop. I ran into him a while later and he bought me coffee to say thanks. Never saw him again.
Last year I let a Chinese girl who was new to the country and terrified stay in my home when I didn’t even know her. Just so you guys know, she and I message on skype at least once a month.
I adopted two dogs who were at the pound.
When my uncle was dying, I did my best to make him comfortable and help his family.
My current job is working in a group home with people who have suffered emotional trauma. They’re difficult at times, but I love my job and I love when I see them happy.
I’m not trying to get credit for being a good person. In fact, I consider myself selfish because I do all of this to make myself feel better.
Our world has been on the brink of destruction for thousands of years. But a few good deeds can make all of the difference.
I’m not trying to change the world anymore. I’m trying to change the world of those whose world needs changing. And if everyone tried to do this, this world would be such a better place.
So I guess I still am trying to change the world. One person at a time.
What good deeds do you do? What have you done to change the world? Let me know in the comments!