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Helping the world also helps you

Every one of us can do something, even if it is very little, to make the world better. Doing that will also make you feel better about yourself.

Posted 10 February 2019

The words "Each of us changes the world every day. We can choose to make it a better place." appear in the footer of every page of my website, and on the back of my business cards. The message is that all of us can do something, no matter how little, to make the world better.

As a result of giving many talks to schoolchildren for the charity Speakers for Schools, I have increasingly thought about a secondary benefit. Making the world better also makes you feel better about yourself, and having a purpose in life works wonders for your mental and physical health.

I made this the subject of my 47th "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester this morning. You can read it below.

Thought for the Week

Watching television news often makes us angry. It’s easy to end up shouting with rage at the television set. Just like a famous character in an old BBC TV sitcom. Remember Alf Garnett?

But does shouting at the TV help? Does it change things? Does it even make you feel any better?

There is a clear Muslim teaching about this. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, gave us his guidance.

If you see evil, you must change it with your hand.” That means you have to do something.

If you cannot change it with your hand, you must change it with your tongue.” That means you have to say something.

Sometimes, even saying something is too dangerous. North Koreans dare not criticise their dictator. In such cases, “you must change it with your heart.” That means silently praying to God for change.

Mahatma Gandhi led the liberation of India from the British Empire. Nelson Mandela led the liberation of South Africans from apartheid. Very few of us can be like them. However, we can all do something.

I am not going to end religious intolerance by myself. But there are things I can do which make a difference. The Muslim Jewish Forum does help to reduce religious intolerance.

For every world problem, there are many organisations you can join and help to make a difference. There are many organisations you can give money to. Every one of us can do something.

Doing something, no matter how small, will help to make the world a better place. Unlike shouting at the TV, doing something will also reduce your stress levels.

Supplemental movie clip

While composing this page, I kept thinking about the film "Gandhi" directed by Richard Attenborough. I still remember how moving it was watching this film in the cinema in my early thirties with my wife.

There was one scene which caused me to cry, tears running down my face. It is directly relevant to the theme of this page. You can watch it below.


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