This quote is often thrown around on various self-improvement websites, Facebook statuses, World Peace blogs etc etc. Somewhere in your life you have probably come across or heard this quote being uttered. We all have that friend who says, "Well just like Gandhi used to say, 'Be the change you wish to see in the world'".... as if they have just cured you of your existential woes and humanitarian burdens.
I look at this quote and see something so powerful that the mere mention of it inspires me. I often naively get excited when I see someone with a "Be the Change" tattoo and then immediately become skeptical when I ask them how exactly they live that out. Simply because you tattoo something on your body does not make you an immediate activist. For instance, I have plenty of tattoos but just because my Arabic tattoo is for my Lebanese mother does not mean that I pretend to speak the language, understand the culture or have an inherent insight into the Arab Spring. If your "Be the Change" tattoo is merely there to show people the hipster, laid back liberal in you then we need to have a sit down chat sometime.
This quote boiled down is a call for ACTION. If Gandhi were the type of man to simply jot something down on paper and leave it at that then there would be no history of this quote and no meaning behind it. It was Gandhi that said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
On March 12, 1930, Gandhi began what is known as "The Salt March." This nonviolent action was meant to oppose the tax monopoly on salt that Britain had at that time. After 23 days and 240 miles of ACTION, Gandhi broke the salt law and immediately sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience all across India.
Now we all know that we can't just throw on our homespun Indian Cloth and march 240 miles to make a point... but what we can do is individually embrace small changes in our lives in order to "Be The Change."
Here are some ideas that Gandhi proposed:
1. Change Yourself.
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
3. Don't be afraid to be human. No one is perfect so just go for it.
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
4. Don't Give In. Changing the world means sharp criticism may be ahead.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
5. Be authentic. Stay true to YOURSELF.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Obviously there are many more ways in which you can "Be The Change" in the world but as a starting point those will do you just fine!