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Small things can bring peace to chaos

Q: I’m very discouraged about what I see in our country. So many problems; so much animosity and negativity. But it’s all so big — what can one person do?

Jim: Let’s use a simple analogy. Say you’re in a public bathroom drying your hands when you see a used paper towel on the floor. Do you pick it up and throw it in the trash? I’m not exactly a “germophobe,” but who knows where that thing has been or what it’s touched?

For the most part, society isn’t transformed by sweeping changes very often. Cultural change usually comes as a result of small things you and I do every day at the grassroots level. We see problems in our communities — big and small. Do we ignore them because we don’t want to touch them? What if it contaminates us? Let somebody else handle it.

How many times have we walked by and ignored what we see? The problem is, everybody else wants to ignore the problem, too. It’s not long before one stray paper towel becomes a bathroom so filthy you don’t want to use it.

A famous quote often attributed to Irish statesman Edmund Burke says: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Few of us have the power to change the world, but we can all do small, positive things every day that bring peace into chaos. We can all do something to make our corner of the world a better place to be. We can all replace the truly ugly with something beautiful. We can all offer something good to replace what’s bad.

If we each just “pick up a paper towel,” we’ll start to clean things up. And it begins with a piece of 2,000-year-old wisdom: Treat others the way you want to be treated yourself.

Jim Daly is an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program.

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