The world is full of problems: hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, intolerance, destruction of the environment, homicide, suicide, genocide, entire nations at war with each other, and so much more that brings pain and suffering to the world. But this is not the saddest part. What I find to be the most bizarre and mind-boggling is that all of us sympathize with at least one of these problems. We can all tell that something is wrong. We all want an end to these problems. We all feel that something must be done.
But how many people will actually do something?
The thing about people is that they can see suffering on their TV’s, they can read about it in the news, they can even be a spectator of it on the street, but very rarely will they cast a second glance after thinking, “Oh, how awful!” before continuing on their way. The problem is not that people are insensitive – for the most part everyone will feel something after witnessing a tragedy – the problem is that most people do not think of how much their actions can make a difference.
“Isn’t It A Pity” was released in 1970 by former Beatle, George Harrison, despite it originally being written in 1966. Due to its rejection by his fellow Beatles, George would have to wait until the band split to finally give this beautiful song to the world on his solo album All Things Must Pass. Like many of George’s songs, the lyrics can be applied on both an individual and universal level – depending on how they are read, the lyrics could be about a single personal relationship, or it could apply to mankind as a whole.
“Isn’t it a pity, now, isn’t it a shame
How we break each other’s hearts and cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love, without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back, isn’t it a pity”
People are constantly “breaking hearts” and “causing pain” all around the world, every moment in time. Whether it’s individuals that we know or an entire group of people, someone is always being hurt. But the truly sad part is that we when someone is in need, we just walk by, we ignore them, and we do it “without thinking anymore”. We forget that every one of us has the power fix the world’s problems. To many people get so caught up in their emotions that they “forget to give back” and they ignore the fact that it does not take much to help ease the pain of the world.
Even the smallest of kind deeds can mean the difference between life or death. Recently, I helped to promote the Eliminate Project, a charity that is working to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, a deadly but very preventable disease. Together, a friend and I decided to bring greater awareness of the disease by creating original art promoting the charity and placing them around our school campus alongside donation jars. We also gave brief speeches in select classes to provide further information, such as the fact that a vaccine costs only $1.80, so any amount of spare change really does make a difference.
“Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we’re all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can’t hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t it a pity”
Sometimes we are discouraged to try to do something to better the world because we feel that we are too insignificant, our actions won’t make a difference in the long run, because the race to make change can be very, very long. But what makes it all worth it is knowing that somewhere your actions may be making a difference in somebody’s life. Even if your actions are affecting somebody who lives far away and you will probably never get to meet them or see the joy that you have brought them, knowing is enough. We all know what it feels like to be down, to be sick, to be suffering. And we also know how it feels to be relieved, to be cured, and to have happiness restored to us. Although we may never see the full effects of our deeds, we can all bring beauty to the world in some form in order to make it a better place.
One of the surprising things about collecting for the Eliminate Project is seeing how different people reacted to our presentations. Some were deeply moved by the cause and donated immediately. Others seemed to care less about the project. But what struck me the most were the people who seemed to be affected by the issue and even thanked us for our work but did not take any action to help. I do completely understand that some people are not capable of donating for financial reasons, but the matter that concerns me is not the fact that people don’t donate but the fact that people see or know of someone who is struggling, are appalled by what they see, and yet do nothing. Every day, people witness others in need but rather than stand up or say something, they stand idle and simply watch as fellow human beings suffer.
“Isn’t it a pity
Isn’t is a shame
How we break each other’s hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pity
Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pity
Forgetting to give back
Now, isn’t it a pity”
The key to encouraging people to be more compassionate towards one another is to emphasize the fact every person can make a difference, a cliché as that sounds. Any small act that does anything for anyone can help to decrease the amount of suffering in the world. By the end of our charity project, which spanned over the course of a week, my friend and I collected a total of $81.00, which in today’s world may not seem like much but with vaccines that cost a $1.80, that is forty-five vaccines. That is potentially forty-five lives saved. And even if we had collected less, even one life saved is a victory because anyone who has ever experienced love in any form knows how much it means to be able to keep a loved one close and to feel their presence by your side. And if all I need to give is a little less than two dollars to make that happen, what is there to lose?
Every time someone stands up, defends someone, helps someone, or does anything to instigate change in the right direction, the world becomes a better place. But this can only happen if people have the courage to get up and do something. Standing idle and watching others suffer will do nothing to help them, no matter how much you sympathize for them. So rather than simply standing by and thinking “isn’t it a pity”, take action and let your legacy live on in the smiles on the faces of others.