On a small busy cobblestone street I walked by a girl wearing a T-shirt reading “I SAVED THE WORLD TODAY.” I didn’t want to impose on her so I didn’t say anything to her as she passed, but I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to get a picture of her.
I got the camera from my wife and I walked over to her and with her father right next to her asked her if I could take a picture of her shirt. She didn’t understand what I asked. Neither did her father. We were in Ghant, Belgium and who knows if she spoke Dutch, French, German, or yet another language.
I asked again by pointing to her shirt and holding up my camera. The father got it, and nodded and had his daughter turn towards me so I could take a picture of the shirt. I snapped a shot and walked away never to know who she was or anything else about her.
It was only about 2:30 in the afternoon so she must have been very busy earlier in the day to have saved the world with almost half a day left. To show you how out of touch I was with the world, I didn’t even know she had saved it until I saw her shirt.
I had to chuckle when I saw the shirt because I am constantly challenging people to save the world. When I finish visiting with others I will often say something like, “take care and save the world!” I know, it is a big task, but I naively think that if we all work together, maybe saving the world is possible. I have been hoping that someone who I challenge to do this, actually accomplishes it. Who’d of thought it would be a young girl in a foreign land?
When I head off to work each morning, I tell my wife that I am headed out the door to save the world. Sometimes she smiles as a mother would do to a young boy who says something that makes no sense. Other times she reminds me that I am not Superman.
It seems to me an inconsistency. Why has she bought me numerous “Superman” items, including a Superman model, only to tell me I am not Superman? Regardless, I would rather start the day with grandiose plans and then have to modify them down rather than start small with a small set routine and hope something big happens.
I do think we live in a world that needs saving. The longer I live, the more I think saving the world is important.
I recently returned from a trip to Europe that included a visit to Flanders Field in Belgium and the Normandy beaches in France. Both involved visiting American cemeteries of men who gave their life for our country in World War I and World War II. The battle in Flanders Field saw 600,000 casualties over four years over a strip of land that was only about six miles deep. The Normandy invasion is estimated to have had between 15,000 and 20,000 casualties.
Both in Paris and Brussels it was clear they had a homeless problem as we have in the states. It doesn’t matter what big city you are in in this world, each one has an area with beggars, some of who are clearly physically disabled. Graffiti appears rampant in large cities all across Europe. Pickpockets are busy at work in tourist and other crowded areas.
It appears that divorce rates are high in every country. Many European countries are greater than the United States.
War, disease, hunger, crime, families breaking apart....it is easy for a person to just throw up his or her arms and give up. Superman is fictional being so when you really get right down to it, can one person really save the world? Realistically, no.
Can one person aim to save the world, fall short, and then make an important difference? I say yes. Ask yourself two questions, “If not me then who?” “If not now, then when?” If you agree we live in a world that needs saving, why would you step back and expect others to do it?
Bottom line, we don’t know what hangs in the wings of what each of us do. Impacting one life can impact a family and a generation to follow. Impacting one group or gathering can impact a community that needs change.
Two of my favorite sayings are “Plant seeds for shade trees you may never be able to enjoy” and “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.” What I am saying is that regardless of where you are in this journey of life, you have the opportunity to plant seeds that may contribute to a collective effort to save the world.
I don’t expect any one of us to cure every disease or to cause world peace, but there are things that only few of us can do based upon where we are in our life journey.
My challenge to you is to aim high in bringing about positive change in all you do. Why not set your sights on saving the world? If you aim for the moon and miss, you at least end up in the stars...not a bad place to land.
Ask yourself the question “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” Your acts, no matter how seemingly small, could change the direction of many lives who could do the same to others and your influence multiplies. But your ability to save the world begins with you and your acts.
I don’t expect to come home one day and tell my wife I truly saved the world, but I did see a girl in Belgium who once did so.
Just at thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.