Most importantly, I've learned to look for world-changing work that has some sort of feedback loop--too often, we feel like our efforts disappear into the ether, and we don't know what good we've done. The strongest example I have of this in my own life is probably one of the smallest examples--one that I think illustrates how tikkun olam plays out in my life: my dog, Izzy.
The short version of the Izzy story is that she was rescued from a puppy-mill in southern Texas two and half years ago. She was completely unsocialized: terrified of humans, and completely afraid of anything new. We worked together constantly, and slowly the layers of fear began to peel away. I'd see tiny little improvements--like when the ice machine in the freezer stopped scaring the bejeezus out of her, or when she first picked up a toy. Then it was bigger things, like when she got into my dad's lap the first time, or when she played with my best friend's dog, Kima. My heart would burst, and I'd feel my own little layer of angst about the world peel away. If this creature could transcend the horrors of the world, wake up every day and do the happy dance, "OMG, we're alive again! We did it!"... then why can't I?
We often think that changing the world has to consume us--but as I wrote in my book, the little ways in which we contribute to the world can be the butterfly that causes a tsunami. With care, nurturing and determination, we're moving mountains. I'm still learning, though. Are you? What are the small acts that you commit every day to change the world? How do you recharge your batteries or otherwise stay sane? If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be?
Post your response on comments or in a post here at your SW blog and tag it #swinspires. We may feature you!
Deanna Zandt is a media technologist and the author of Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking (Berrett-Koehler, June 2010). She is a consultant to key progressive media organizations includingAlterNet and Jim Hightower’s Hightower Lowdown, and is a Research Fellow at the Center for Social Media at American University. Zandt specializes in social media, is a leading expert in women and technology, and is a frequent guest on CNN International, BBC Radio, Fox News and more.
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