Warren Schmidt: I know we’re all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference, but what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me?
On my way to work I encountered an irritating man. The sight of him, immediately annoyed me. He stood in a manner inconvenient to others and was oblivious to the inconvenience he was causing. After a short while he whipped his bag around and fished out a chocolate bar. This annoyed me even more. One, because it was a Patanjali product (not really his fault here, my prejudice to blame). Two, because he was eating in an unsophisticated manner. Chomping loudly with his mouth agape. I felt anger and hate in me for this man I barely knew. I was disgusted by him.
Then I felt an abstract nudge. I realized, well this can ruin my day. This man, whoever he is; he is staying true to himself. I on the other hand, would love to be someone who goes around with a smile and spreads some cheer and if nothing else, be happy. So I made a decision; I will not hate this man. I will accept him as he is and wish him a good day. So I continued my commute with a smile and renewed hope; washed of anger, hate and disgust.
He finished his chocolate and was balling his wrapper (he first licked the wrapper clean, but I now, wasn’t bothered with his mannerisms). It dawned on me, that the next thing he was about to do, was toss the wrapper out the train. I prepared myself to act, but first reminded myself to act only in love. Just as I predicted, he stuck his hand out the train. I tapped his arm lightly and asked him to hand me the wrapper. I offered to throw it in a dustbin since I was getting down at the next station. He withheld the wrapper and said no. He thanked me, took out a plastic bag and put the wrapper in it. He said, it was good to be reminded about a good thing. He kept mumbling with a smile, saying thank you.
So, I did not actually save the world or something out here. I probably saved Mumbai from one more piece of litter and probably reminded a man of his duty towards the environment. Insignificant? You decide.
If you think this is significant, then I invite you to make a difference in the world. A few things to keep in mind. Get rid of your prejudices and accept the fact that each person you encounter has a background that you can’t comprehend. Next, always remind yourself of the bigger picture, the ultimate goal. This will ensure you respond to situations, rather than react to them. Lastly, act in love. I didn’t scold the man for littering, but rather offered to throw the wrapper for him. He may still have gotten rude and scoffed at me. But, I had already decided to make a difference and smile back.