Sunday’s Wisdom #419: What to Do With the World

“Or, you could take the world as you find it, broken and jagged and weak, and you could step right into the midst of it. Take what it is and spend yourself making it what it should be.”
– Flibbet the Peddler, Raven’s Ruin
The Keeper Origins
, by JA Andrews

This is part of a conversation which Flibbet, a peddler that passes through the story every so often, is having with the main protagonist at a moment when she feels very low and very disheartened. The one hope she had seems to be dashed to pieces, the one place she thought she could be free from the corruption of the world is flawed in a way she cannot overlook. In the course of their talk, he points out that ultimately she has only two choices. One is to pack it all in, give up, run away from the world, and find some place of peace on her own. Or go the other way, as he says in this quote, and do what she can to make the world a better place.

I think, perhaps, it is not exactly uncommon for us to pick that first option, on some level. It might not always involve going out to a cabin in the woods, washing our hands of all civilization and such. It can be as simple and everyday as just going about our lives and leaving the fate of the world for others to decide. Nothing wrong, I rush to add, with the decision to focus on putting food on the table instead of launching ourselves on some fool, idealistic, one-man crusade to save the world. Balance is key, after all. But every time we look away from the world, away from how things are, and away from the people who need help, just so we can stay put in our quiet little corner, well… we’re not going to improve our world like that, are we?

I remember a passing moment on a perfectly ordinary day, where I was going from one place to another, my mind set entirely on where I was going and what I was doing as I walked among a flowing crowd. Along the edge of the crowd was a girl, a young lady with blonde hair and a troubled, upset expression. She was going one way, and I was going another, so I walked past her and that was it. I kept going. And going. And going. It couldn’t have been more than a minute, but it might as well have been an eternity for the moment that I had missed. I turned back, cursing myself with a dozen faults and ran back the way I had come, but it was far too late. I never found that girl who might have been in need of nothing more than to know that someone, even a perfect stranger, could still care about her.

That was around fifteen years ago, now, and I still remember, and regret, that moment where, in my haste, I turned away and failed to do something that might have been nothing, or it might have been good. I have applied that lesson once or twice since, but I still regret that little bit of good which I did not do, that little bit of me which I did not give.

It’s a small thing, a small moment, I know. But that’s what life is made up of: moments. The entire world, the entire universe, is made up of smaller things. Maybe if we all took better care of the small things, perhaps the world itself would be a better place, with less suffering, less hate, and less apathy, and more kindness, more courage, more justice and mercy.

We all have our own strengths, our own spheres of influence, our own little corners of the world. We all have ways in which we would want to see the world improved, and we all know the urge to step away from it all, for changing the world is a mighty thing and we are all so weak and powerless. But if each of us can find within us the resolve to act, not to save the entire world but to improve things in our own way, in our own corner, then all of that will run together, and together, all of us can do much to make the world what it should be.

It requires much. Indeed, it requires everything we can give of ourselves. But it all starts with a choice to either reject the world for all its imperfections and try to keep ourselves apart from it, or we step into it and try to make things right.

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