“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing.”
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes
It is easy to watch the news or scroll through Facebook or read the paper–however we get our news–and think that humanity is just plain doomed. And in a sense, we are. As of right now, no one gets to live forever, so we all carry our own little seed of doom around with us. Humans are bad for the planet and we’re bad for each other. According to the news, the only thing we’re particularly good at is destruction. There is truth here, but it certainly isn’t the whole truth.
Someone shared this Estes quote with me today, and it was like being handed one of those enormous bundles of balloons that I always wished for as a child. If it could carry kids away on adventures in cartoons and storybooks, I wanted it, too. How cool would it be to soar over Mt. Everest without having to climb it…? I haven’t yet had the opportunity to actually attach myself to a huge bunch of balloons and float away, but hopeful words like this make my brain and heart feel like they are holding tight to those strings.
When I think about all of the problems faced in just my little tiny dot of a town on the map of the world, I am overwhelmed. When I think about the problems faced in schools, in the environment, in our current political climate, in international relations…well, I’m pretty sure my mental overload meter is on red. It is too easy for me to look at the big picture, and think about how powerless I am in the face of it. Estes’s quote reminds me that I don’t have to focus on the entire Metropolitan Museum of Art, but can choose a wing to get to know.
In Estes’s quote, I hear echoes of Mother Theresa. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” We can contribute to the accumulation of acts and tip the scales toward enduring good.