It Takes a Planet

Have you been feeling as if the world has become as unpredictable as a certain someone’s tweets? Me too. It’s as if we are living in a blitzkrieg of bad, crazy, and perplexing developments in recent months and years. If it seems to you that instability and uncertainty are picking up speed, you aren’t alone.


Whether it’s an environmental crisis like global warming, or a political crisis like the possibility of nuclear war threatening the planet, a historic reversal of racial and religious tolerance, or even unchecked population growth, more than a few of you have told me the growing instability makes you so uncomfortable you feel compelled to do something about it! And yet, the question that follows is almost always some form of the powerless and familiar “But what can I do?” 

Most people tell me they sincerely want to make a difference, yet genuinely don’t know how or where to begin to impact anything. Just deciding what part of your trash you can legitimately recycle is enough of challenge. Can you really be expected to fix the world and manage your own life?

As a person who has spent my entire life trying to sort out this conundrum of how I can change the world, I get it. It’s entirely overwhelming when every direction you turn reveals huge, complex problems. Yet, like any challenge in life that feels too big to understand, let alone fix, we can only begin where we are and act where we can. But act we must. When we begin to question whether our personal actions or anyone’s actions can truly impact such unsettling large problems as global warming, rampant gun violence, or Middle East peace, it can be comforting to remember Nelson Mandela's famous quote, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”, which he prophetically stated a year before apartheid ended in South Africa.

The really great news about our jointly shared crises is that the number of individuals and businesses stepping up to take responsibility for the state of our world is dramatically picking up speed. Socially conscious businesses, non-profits, and citizen groups are popping up everywhere to tackle global hunger, girls’ education, energy poverty, and thousands more new and intractable problems. Multinational corporations have also come to understand they must respond to the demands of their customers and investors to be socially responsible if they are to remain competitive. Even individuals, weary of watching progress regress in bureaucratic hands, have taken on massive, entrenched problems like global poverty, human trafficking, and the refugee crisis all by themselves, often making progress faster than bloated non-profits or ineffective governments. If you are curious how they've managed to pull that off, you can find the inspirational life stories of ten such world changers in my book, One Person Acted and Everything Changed: Ten Inspiring Stories of World Changers.

But what about the rest of us mere mortals wanting to contribute to “the fixing” and still pay our bills, go to work and school, raise our families and help our friends, and essentially keep on living? How do we keep our day job and still change the world? The really good news is that we absolutely can, because as much as the world needs and benefits from singularly focused captains of change who dedicate their entire lives to one specific cause, our shared challenges are so real and the consequences of failing to solve them so weighty we must look to the daily actions, spending habits, and behaviors of all 7 ½ billion of us if we hope to solve our issues.

That should be comforting news, because taking any positive action to make the world a little bit better or even a little less scary makes us feel more in control, gives our lives genuine purpose, and helps right the mother ship. With each of us taking personal responsibility for our actions, joining forces to clean up the planet, the politics, the madness, the sadness, the imbalance, and the injustice, it is an absolute fact we can change the way we move forward and evolve into a healthy, rationale species living on a sustainable planet.  We can directly impact our families and friends, our companies, our political process, our society, and our world.  What’s even better is that we can have a great time doing it, meeting new people, sharing values, and creating solutions. Few events bond people together like working toward a shared vision they each feel passionate about.

Yet the question remains, where do YOU begin? How do YOU weave changing the world into YOUR daily life that is already filled beyond capacity?

That’s exactly what this blog is devoted to exploring. In the coming weeks and months you'll find straightforward information and steps you can take to begin making a difference in the areas that concern you most. You’ll find inspiring stories of individuals already taking action to spark your thinking. You’ll discover tiny actions you can try on for size, and really simple daily habits you can develop. You'll broaden your knowledge of current issues through book recommendations, videos, article links, and podcasts, along with reviews of world-bettering products or services that make change easier.

From the simple to the challenging, you’ll learn how to take steps toward making the world safer, saner, and increasingly sustainable for us and our fellow species. As someone striving to make the world better, I promise you'll feel less anxious and more purposeful, be more optimistic, and speak out more about our combined ability to make this world work. 

So remember to keep a reusable grocery bag in the car for the next time you go shopping, smile at a stranger, investigate a nagging concern, and follow my blog every week to explore your own path. The world needs your help, truly. 

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This election was not simply the result of two unpopular candidates fighting for our lackluster attention. It was a message to all of us that we have dropped the ball, that we haven’t shown up, that we have left the heaving lifting—actually all the lifting—for someone else to do.  Now many of us don’t like what others came up with, and we are grieving at the prospects of a darker world emerging. Whether it does or not is up to us. Just like everything else. I take power and solace from that knowledge.