“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
I consider my sister So a mini foundation for giving. Whenever she encounters a homeless person on the street, she never fails to give, no matter how small it may be: $1, $2, or even food, giving whatever she can afford. I have yet to see her turn away from anyone suffering on the streets. While she is aware that the homeless may use money to buy drugs or alcohol, she believes it is not her place to judge others but her spiritual obligation to show unconditional compassion, so she gives blindly. She has been such an inspiration to me.
To make a real difference in this world, we do not have to do extraordinary things, like donating large amounts of money or time, but rather do small things for others with genuine love. Mother Teresa, my spiritual icon who was the epitome of selfless and loving acts in order to serve God, says, “Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” I believe my sister So lives by these words through her small yet loving actions.
I’ve met people who say that they plan to give once they make money. While such future intentions are certainly admirable, we must place our focus on the NOW, giving and loving in the present moment. We can not afford to postpone love, as no one knows what tomorrow will bring. I believe that having good future intentions is really more of a cop out and excuse in order to avoid the harsh realities of deep sufferings in this world. As Mother Teresa believed that your real strength lies in the small things to which you are committed, so there is no reason to delay in your giving and love. In Buddhism, they teach you how to change your mind in order to change the world because they believe every individual mind and action can make a huge impact in the world. As the Dalai Lama says, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
As there are so many problems and issues around the world, you might feel overwhelmed about how you as an individual can help change the world. The first and easiest place to start is in your own home and family, as Mother Teresa believed. Show simple love to your husband, wife, children and to your extended family: sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins, et al. By taking that first step, you are taking a big one. Mother Teresa said that if she had not picked up that first homeless person off the streets of Calcutta, she would not have picked up thousands around the world. You can then extend your circle to friends with simple acts of kindness, such as driving a friend to the hospital or watching a neighbor’s house while they’re away — just simple kind acts. Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” If you feel the urge to give even more, then you can extend your service to your community, perhaps in your local church or non-profit organization. You can find an organization in every town or city that is serving on a local, national or international level. It is not necessary to travel to starving or impoverished countries around the world to make a real difference; there are so many small ways you can make a difference in your own community.
While it may be on a small scale, your commitment must be consistent in order to have any long-term positive change and effect. So if you choose to volunteer 3 hours every week, then make the commitment to do so without the excuse of inconvenience because love has no such conditions or boundaries. If you are steadfast, think about what you will accomplish in one week, one month, or in one year — the small love and giving will have accumulated into something much bigger and larger. Building on that 1 homeless person she picked up off the streets, Mother Teresa now has hundreds of shelters around the world with 5,000 sister nuns serving the poor, starved, diseased, and unwanted. As every drop of water makes up an ocean, every drop of your love contributes to universal healing, which is powerful and significant, right? Because our world peace is dependent on each and every one of our drops, we each have a moral responsibility to give and show love on any scale we can provide. If we are not contributing in our own way, then, by our silence and inaction, we are depleting that one drop that is part and parcel of the entire health of our world. When we realize that our small acts of love are not so small, after all, but have really big impact in our society, we can not turn away from doing whatever we can, in our power, to serve others. So, pick your own small loving act today, as there is no better day to get started!
I leave you with inspiring words by Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” There is no big secret here, just remember, small things with big love.
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living