There’s an old episode of “Touched by an Angel” (aptly titled, “Breaking Bread”) in which a character played by Michael Chiklis doesn’t know how to combat a new evil that has come to his town. He’s just a baker, he protests. What could he possibly do to make a difference?
By the end of the episode, he opposes this evil force simply by doing what he does best: baking bread, and then sharing it with his neighbors. Because breaking bread together helps to build a community, and when we get to know, trust and even love our neighbors, “evil” in whatever guise has a much more difficult time gaining a foothold.
Now, I take serious issue with a number of elements of that television show in general, but the message of that particular episode has stuck with me. By doing what we each do best, we are making a contribution to the common good?even if that contribution isn’t immediately apparent.
Whenever I’m worried that maybe I’m really not making a difference in a world that seems to be always falling apart at the seams (or actively tearing itself apart), I remind myself of the image of Michael Chiklis handing out freshly baked loaves to his neighbors.
I’m a story teller. It’s highly unlikely that one of my stories will cure cancer, provide a break-through source of clean energy, eradicate famine, stop a war, eliminate violence against women, reverse climate change, or ensure that there are no more homeless pets. At least not directly.
But maybe a story or two of mine might inspire someone to work a bit harder in school, and that person will go on to find the cure for AIDS. Or someone who’s hit a wall in nuclear technology might take a break and happen to pick up something of mine?maybe a short story about the afterlife or a newspaper article about bicycling?and a random vocabulary word or phrase in the text might spark the out-of-the-box approach that solves the problem.
Not that my work is revolutionary. The point is, we don’t really know how our actions and efforts will impact the people and the world around us. The ripples can be felt much farther afield than we can imagine. But if we’re doing our best work and taking constructive advantage of our skills and talents, I’d like to think that we’re each helping to leave the world a better place.
You can change the world. Starting today. Right now. Just by being who you are and putting your best foot forward.
What are you waiting for?
Creative Commons photo by jronaldlee.