Think Globally and Act Locally: How To Make a Difference

think globally and act locally

The View from Above

The adage to think globally and act locally, usually refers to the environment. It also pertains to those who live in and affect that environment.

Recently I heard astronaut Chris Hadfield recount how you can see winter and summer on a single ninety-two-minute orbit of the earth. I’d thought about how often astronauts see the transition from night to day. But his description of seeing opposing seasons on the same cycle landed with me in a new way. Looking down from the heavens, our interconnection is unmistakable. Yet when we zoom in for a close-up, our myopic frame of reference distorts.

No longer can we get away with saying it’s not in our back yard because the whole earth is our yard. There are no borders. We are interconnected with all life, including the planet herself.

Hope or Hopelessness

Pressures from pandemic, climate change, and racial (and other) injustices push us past the flash point. We vacillate between hope and hopelessness. Our world, and its cultures, politics, and economies, has turned upside down and inside out. The tremendous upheaval we’re experiencing has bared systemic injustices and entrenched inequities.

At the same time, burning the veneer off lets us see what simmers beneath the surface while we blithely go about our day. We slip into oblivion about the suffering of our neighbours. Until it threatens us.

It’s in our nature to want to fix what’s broken, but how and where do we start? Sustainable change doesn’t happen when we do what we’ve always done. Worrying, blaming, and judging won’t heal our world.

How to Make a Difference

Each of us can contribute to the solution, starting now. All that’s needed is to take one step. No one needs to do it all. The biggest gift you can offer is to show up and be present. Listen. People want to be heard.

Yesterday I lost my glasses. As I was sitting in my outdoor workspace preparing to write this, I wondered what it would be like to lose my vision. Closing my eyes, I heard and felt the late-spring breeze. A male cardinal whistled. Robins chirped. A mourning dove cooed. A variety of songbirds warbled their melodic tunes. Squirrels chattered. Wind chimes blended in. Occasional cars passed on the nearby street. Someone honked their horn. A dog barked. The stream babbled playfully, charged after last night’s rain. All manner of life chorused around me, the energy palpable. I miss this when I’m intent on seeing.

Before we can understand we must listen without trying to impose our perspective. Otherwise, we take well-intended action that misses, and can often exacerbate, the problem. We act from our prejudices without pausing to place ourselves in another’s shoes. We forget we all carry biases.

Not long ago, a friend called me on a comment I made that reflected a hidden (to me) bias about a physical behavior. I’ve caught myself judging someone, only to be proven wrong. We all do it.

Think globally and Act locally.

Start with you. Me. Now. We can never know how a simple act of kindness can change a life. Or how far the repercussions ripple. What we do for another we do for ourselves.

Practicing stillness and writing, even these posts, are two things I can share that may make a difference.

Listen, pay attention, then get out of the way. Watch for the opportunities and do what calls your heart. Effective action from a heart of love is unstoppable.

What’s one action you can take today? Let us know in the comments.

Photo on VisualHunt


Author, writer, and student Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery.

2 Comments on “Think Globally and Act Locally: How To Make a Difference

  1. Thank you Liz for your always enlightening and provocative words of wisdom you always leave us with work to improve ourselves.