To Change The World Let’s Start With Ourselves

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Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly popular to see young people upset at the older generation for not solving, what they consider to be, extremely urgent problems.

Climate change, low minimum-wages, expensive health-care, and so many others.

While I’m not going to get into the politics of any of them, what I will do, risking upsetting some of you, is to argue why most people shouldn't be so focused on any of this.

Especially, young people…

…because:

“People who don't have their own houses in order should be very careful before they go about reorganizing the world.”

In this Q&A, he was asked the following question:

“How can young people even take personal responsibility if they’ll never have the financial means to own things to be responsible over? For example, a house, a car, a family.”

The woman who asked the question argued that when Jordan gives advice like “clean your room”, he doesn’t understand how some issues are so far out of their control, that taking personal responsibility wouldn’t help.

For these issues, collective responsibility should take priority, which means, we should be more focused on these global crises than on our own lives.

While I can empathize with the frustrating sense of not being able to have the impact we desire, I must express my disagreement with this argument and everything it represents.

Personally, it feels extremely naive.

The thing that seems to be lost in it, is that, in my opinion, collective responsibility can only form from a bunch of individuals, who adopted this responsibility in their lives, coming together for something greater than themselves.

I believe it can only happen this way because we must have a foundation for what we are trying to impose on everyone else.

For challenges that require the common effort of several people, the same habits that were required for us to take responsibility for our own lives will not only be required, but also the consequences for failing to stick to them will be much greater.

Now, to address the complaint that young people have it so hard that they can’t even own things to be responsible…

Well, where to even start…

You always have yourself

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Whatever the circumstance we find ourselves in, for how hard it may be, we can always steer ourselves in the direction we want to go and take the smallest step in that direction…

And then another, and then another after that.

No matter how long the road, if we can gather ourselves to keep doing this over and over, we will find ourselves, at the bare minimum, closer to what we believe to be right.

See the quote up there?

That was written by Viktor Frankl while relating his experience as a prisoner on a nazi concentration camp.

A man who quite literally lost everything: his possessions, his family, even his name was replaced by a number. Despite all of this, he never assumed that he couldn’t have an impact, regardless of how small it might be.

He did what all of us wish we could have done when faced with such a harsh fate.

Now, if you’re reading this you most certainly are not facing a similar challenge as Viktor was. Despite that, you are without a doubt, facing challenges that can certainly feel overwhelming and which appear to have no solution.

It’s frustrating to see things you believe to be wrong, around you, and then be given advice like “clean your room”. It feels insignificant.

However, for how insignificant this advice may feel, it is one of the first steps we can take to get our life in order. A step, that if accompanied by similar ones will eventually lead to a life of a much greater positive impact on everyone we interact with.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” — Mother Theresa

Enough of those compounded on top of each other have the potential to achieve our wildest dreams.

But it all starts with the first step. So, to finish, I’ll leave you with the words of a man that had to face extreme racism from his peers and his country, countless death threats, moments where everything seemed lost. A man that was eventually murdered for sticking to his ideals, but, nonetheless, was able to change the course of history:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Written by

Stoicism & Philosophy | Building @pathsofmeaning

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