This quote from anthropologist, Margaret Mead has inspired me in many areas and times of my life. In the things I do, the situations I face, now and in the past, it keeps coming back to me, a kind of inspiration that I find so empowering, that idea that “You can change the world. You can really make a difference”.
I have to admit that it was much more real back in my idealistic youth, my activist days, when we really did believe you could change the world and we did. Those were those exciting 60’s and 70’s times of extraordinary change in the world, change of a very different type to what we are now experiencing.
It’s come back to inspire me again this past week-end as I have begun to watch the Netflix documentary, The Keepers, on sexual abuse in a Catholic girl’s school in Baltimore, USA, in the late 1960s. It was its excellent reviews that drew me to it. As a Catholic myself and having actually worked with the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in my counselling and psychotherapy practice, I thought there was nothing I didn’t know about this enormous blight on this religious institution. I’ve only watched two of the seven episodes, but it has made me aware, yet again, in a way I didn’t understand in my school days, of the enormous, unbridled power of the Church and the Catholic male clergy in those days.
A highly admired young nun who taught at the Baltimore Diocese school, Sister Cathy Cesnik, was murdered in 1969. Her body was not found until two months later. The police have never solved the case.
Two Women in their 60s have Changed the World – or A Small Part of It!
Forty-seven years later, two past students, now in their 60s, took up the case to find her killer. That’s where Margaret Mead’s words came back to me yet again. The police, with all their expertise and the power of their office, could not do that in all those years, yet along come two women who do it for them, two women powered with commitment and passion and a fierce sense of social justice. They are not investigative journalists. In fact they have no experience in this area of work at all. One describes herself at good at talking with people and getting them to open up to her. The other says she is good at doing research on the computer. I don’t want to reveal any more of the story but it worth watching. Even while they may not get exactly the result they want, they have put a dent in the universe. to quote Steve Jobs.
Small Groups of People Can Change The World
What I do want to talk about, however, is what Margaret Mead said – that it has always been small groups who have changed the world. Whether your “world” is your family, your workplace, your neighbourhood, your local or global community, you and I can change it. So many of us, today, are so busy with our own immediate life that we have little time to change anything, even our hair styles or our banks, let alone commit to making a dent in the universe.
One of the early lessons I learnt in my Catholic school education was a commitment to social justice. Inherent in that was a belief in working for the common good. Sometimes today I wonder where that has gone because there is much more emphasis today on doing what is for my individual good.
So join me this week, in looking at your life and your world, and see what you think needs to change. What if you could bring together a small group of people to work with you to change a small part of the world to make a difference.