What We Make Of It

Sounds simple.

The world is what we make of it.

Mahjong in Wuhan China, 2003

Neighborhood mahjong game in Wuhan China, 2003

But the world is a big place. It is unlikely you can fix it all. And it is unlikely your efforts from 10,000 miles away will prevail over those who sit, play Mahjong and occasionally sweep out the dirt.

Worse, there are those who will tear down what you build up because they want something else. And to get the resources to do so, they will steal the food you send and sell or bargain it for their own purposes.

And, in case you haven’t walked the streets and experienced it for yourself, there are those who will resent your sheltered life, your nurtured upbringing, nice clothes, undamaged body and your belief that people are inherently good – because their hard life has taught them otherwise. They have lived a different reality.

And some of those other realities can be very cruel.

It is a sad fact that those who hurt will sometimes feel satisfaction, a sick kind of pleasure from the pain they inflict. We call that cruelty. Yes, that’s sick. Yes, that’s wrong. But yes, it’s true, there are people who will do that, because that is the world they know. And when you encounter someone like that, you may not have the time to convince them it doesn’t have to be that way. Indeed, in some situations, you may not even the opportunity to speak a single word to convince them otherwise.

Bang! You’re dead.

So here’s the bottom line. Your life really is up to you. Yes, it is hard. Yes, therebis risk, considerable risk. And Yes, some are born with conditions that make it next to impossible to make life what they want it to be. Some are born into environments, into families, into societies and cultures that prevent them from realizing their true potential.

It’s not a slam dunk.

You may not be able to make life what you want it to be.

But that’s not what it says. Read it again: “The world is what we make of it.”

It means you contribute. It’s a collective effort. The world is the sum total.

And your contribution to the world is voluntary. You can contribute, try to make it better, sometimes succeed, sometimes fail but either way, you are still setting the example for others to follow so even in failure, you are contributing.

Or you can sit back and, like a filter-feeding sponge on the ocean floor, eat again what those above already ate.

It’s your choice.

Hitler contributed subtracted.

Mother Teresa contributed added.

What will you make of the world today, will it be an addition or a subtraction, or should I just hand you a net?

3 thoughts on “What We Make Of It

  1. Did Hitler “contribute?” I kind of feel like the millions of people who cooperated in stopping him “contributed,” but that he subtracted. To me, “contribute” suggests something positive. He sucked the life out of millions of people.

    • I agree that “contribute” is the wrong word. Perhaps “make a difference”? The point, of course, is that if one person is making a negative contribution (Hitler), it then takes a positive contribution to offset it. A “no effort” person won’t correct the negative. Action, positive action, is required.

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