We all want to do our part to spread peace and equality, but many of us don’t know where to begin. After all, we’re each just one person, right? What can one single person do to create a more peaceful and equal world? Turns out, the answer is “a lot.” Read on to find out why.
Spreading Peace and Equality is a Human Responsibility
Before we move on, let me just assure you that I’m not going to talk about politics here. Not because the politics involved are unimportant. They absolutely are. However, spreading peace end equality is a human responsibility, not a political one.
Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I’d like to amend that to “Never doubt that a single person can change the world…”
See, every group- big and small- is made up entirely of single people. If everyone thought, “I can’t do anything, I’m just one person,” then we’d never accomplish anything. Consider this when you look at a sea of people marching for change- every last one of those bodies is a single person who got up, stood up, and said, “I want to change the world.” Every last one.
Ending inequality and promoting peace is something that we absolutely must do on an individual level. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join in physical protests, nor does it mean you’re not helping if you can’t be there in person. Either way, just remember- it’s what we do after the protests that really matters. We have to work on ourselves individually before we can work together to change the world.
What can we do to promote peace and equality as a single person?
Rosa Parks said many powerful things about equality but one of my favorites goes, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” Notice, she said “each person,” rather than “everybody” or “all people.” Living your life as a model for others means actively considering the things you say, do, and even think and asking yourself, “Am I the person I expect others to be?”
This is why I said that promoting peace and equality isn’t just a political issue. We can’t ask our leaders to do something that we’re not willing to do ourselves. After all, leaders can’t lead those who won’t follow.
So, what can we do to become the people we expect others to be? There’s no real how-to guide. It’s not something you can learn from a listicle. That said, I do have some ideas that may help get you started.
Commit to “peace first”
Make a personal commitment to living a life that puts peace first. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can never get angry or yell. It certainly doesn’t mean you can never fight back when your life is in jeopardy. It simply means that you will consider the most peaceful non-aggressive solution to every challenge first. If we all did just this, we’d be well on our way to creating a more harmonious world.
Evaluate your own prejudices
We really need to learn to stop judging others if we want to promote peace and equality. I know you want to believe that you have exactly zero prejudices, but the truth is, we all have them. It’s actually a science-backed fact. Maybe you lock your door when you drive through certain neighborhoods that you perceive as “bad.” Perhaps you make snap judgement about a person’s education level based on their social media grammar. Maybe you even find yourself thinking, “Girls can’t…” or “Boys can’t…” So, take a good hard look at your own thoughts and beliefs, identify prejudices, and actively work to change them in yourself.
Use your voice for others
I’m not just talking about your social media “voice.” We seem to think that we can’t be heard if we don’t have a million followers on Twitter or a huge Facebook fan base. The truth is, we ALL have a voice (figuratively, if not literally). Even if just one person hears it, it makes a difference. If you hear someone using racist or aggressive language- either on purpose or because they don’t know any better- say something. Change one person’s heart. They’ll change another’s, and they another, and so on. That’s how change spreads, how peace spreads.
Raise your children to be good people
I wanted to say that raising our kids to be good people is the single most important thing we can do to promote peace and equality. However, that implies that it’s too late for us, that we should just push it off onto the next generation. It’s not and we shouldn’t.
That said, it’s still among the most important things that each and every one of us parents can do on an individual level. Teach your kids that all people deserve equality, that no one is better than anyone else. Read them books about kindness. Teach them to value peace, to use their words for good, to stand up for others.
We have a long way to go before our world is truly peaceful and equal for all. However, just because the road is long doesn’t mean we should turn around and cancel the journey. If we all commit to putting one foot in front of the other, we can make this world a brighter and safer place for everyone. Just remember, like Lao Tzu said, “Every journey starts with a single step.” Likewise, every change begins with one single person saying, “I want to do better.”