The problems of the world are too large, too complex for me to even comprehend, let alone contribute to a solution.
What am I supposed to do about global warming? Drive a Prius and the ice sheets will stop melting? Recycle my plastic soda bottles and the fires in California will go away? Hardly.
What am I supposed to do about the whack-jobs running Syria, North Korea and ISIS? Send $25 to UNICEF? Walk in a protest rally? I don’t think so.
What can I do to help the millions of refugees who have lost their homes and families and are literally adrift in a strange and scary world that doesn’t want them? Write a letter to my Member of Congress? Send another $25 to UNICEF? Ain’t gonna change a thing.
So here I sit, helpless to do anything.
But then I recall the time I was working with a client a thousand miles from home and had a bad toothache. The client called his dentist, who took me right away and made the pain go away.
And the time I thought I’d lost my phone in the Atlanta airport and the kindly Delta agent walked the entire length of the terminal to return it to me.
And the time my brother sat and listened, he didn’t judge, he just listened as I poured my problems into his ear.
Tiny little acts of kindness. One-to-one, that brightened my day, lifted my spirit, renewed my faith in humanity. There have been countless moments in my life when friends, family, even total strangers have made the decision to give a little of themselves and help me.
So I realize that I’m far from helpless. Every single day I’m handed dozens of opportunities to pass on that tiny act of kindness. I can look the checkout clerk at the grocery store in the eye and offer a genuine smile. I can treat the man at the call center for the cable company like the human being he is. I can shock the heck out of someone by holding the door for them.
There’s an old story about a woman walking along a beach and coming across an entire school of fish that had been washed up and stranded well above the water line. She bent down and picked one up, carried it back to the ocean and let it go. A bystander scoffed that there were hundreds of other fish and she couldn’t possibly help them all. “No,” she replied, “but I could help that one.”