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Essays by KT

The Better World Handbook Reflection

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CL 100

19 November 2008

            “The Better World Handbook” talks about how to make the world a better place.  There are many different ways the each individual can help to make the world a better place.  There are also many excuses we come up with in order to avoid our responsibility to society.  Everyone affects the place in which they live in many different ways.  These effects are hopefully good ones.

            We are a diverse world and we each have different strengths.  These strengths form a community’s social capital.  Because we are all unique, we each have different ways of contributing to the world to make it a better place.  No one else can contribute to a better world in the exact same way.  We all have a social responsibility, the responsibility and the privilege to contribute to making the world a better place for us all to live.

            Although one person by himself cannot change the world, each person can make a difference in it.  We can only do what we can do.  We cannot control what or how much other people do.  We can only control our own actions.  If we each focus on how we can contribute to the bettering of the world as well as act upon it, we will in fact be making the world a better place.  However, “… we are never guaranteed the results we hope for” (p. 6).

            This book made a point that the book “The Cathedral Within” made.  That point is that things take time.  Drastic changes generally do not happen over night.  We must not only have the desire but also the patience to make the world a better place.  We must have faith that what we are doing is in fact making a difference.  And we must be willing to risk failure and get back up and try again when we do not succeed.

            To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “One of the greatest agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.”  “We must be willing to create a project of which we make never see the end results” (p. 6).  This quote, although from “The Better World Handbook”, is the theme of the whole book of “The Cathedral Within”.

            Sometimes I find it difficult to find time in my busy schedule to volunteer.  I really enjoy having to do community service hours for a class or a scholarship.  This is because I am then forced to make time to do something I love doing anyways.

The part of this book I think I related to the most was Trap #5.  To make a difference in the world, to change the world for the better, can seem like quite an overwhelming task.  Although I help quite a bit in the community, what I do myself is not necessarily drastically changing the world.

If I can affect a few people in a positive way and each of them then positively affect a few more people, the world will become a better place.  This concept reminds me of the movie Pay It Forward.  Everything we do effects at least one other person who then effects at least one other person.  If we have a positive influence, hopefully this will encourage that person to have a positive influence as well.

It’s really difficult to see how our actions will affect the world or will even affect one person.  We just have to have faith that our actions do make a difference in the world.  We make a difference in the lives of whoever we are around.  It is generally easier when we can look back and see what a difference we have made.  Sometimes we cannot see the difference we have made, but this does not mean that we have not made a difference.  I know it is more enjoyable and easier for me to put my whole heart into doing volunteer work when I can see the difference I am making or at least the potential.

Many times I find it difficult to start more volunteer work because I’m not sure what to do, where to do it, when to do it, or how to do it.  “But remember we don’t have to be perfect people, have perfect knowledge, wait until the perfect time, or know the perfect action to take before we begin making the world better.…  Once you start, you’ll gain a better knowledge, better timing and better actions and ultimately become a better person for it.” (p. 8)

If I look at what I do in comparison to what needs to or could be done, I find myself wishing I could do so much more.  Sometimes I feel like I’m not volunteering for the right reason or not helping in the best way I possibly can.

            If I were to look at a perfect world as the goal, it would seem extremely overwhelming.  This is especially true since this goal is not something that I myself, in my lifetime will be able to complete.  Even looking at changing the world as a whole seems overwhelming.  So, in order to not become overwhelmed, I have to take it one step at a time, influencing and being a positive role model to those around me.  I also have to “Keep in mind that the goal is a better world and not a perfect world.  It is not an all-or-nothing commitment.” (p 8)

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