It was great to see Jane Goodall on the Q&A panel of elders last night as she has a truly wonderful perspective on life. The above quote is one my favourites and I try to base my daily mantra on this, particularly for my work in education. The impact that we all constantly make on each other is profound even if we consistently trend towards incognisance.
Like many educators, I am in the empowering yet humbling position of impacting the lives of children and young people on a daily basis. Our species is social in nature – we not only crave interaction it is a prerequisite for our survival and to thrive and learn. Learning may be a cognitive process, but it fundamentally requires feedback and synthesis through interaction with the physical and social world. This is never more obvious between a parent and a child or a teacher and their student.
But against the notion of empowering individual impact and consequence is the astronomical perspective, in which the word ‘inconsequential’ may come to mind. If you haven’t seen the below clip of Carl Sagan outlining the Pale Blue Dot, a picture of Earth from 6 billion kilometres away, it is worth a watch as it is enlightening.
This all may may seem overwhelming (it does for me), and as Sagan states:
There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.
Despite this, Jane Goodall’s notion holds true. We do just by our very presence in life make a difference in the world, often being reminded of the opportunities there are to make positive changes for ourselves and for others. Working in service professions where helping others is inherent, such as education, is powerful and I applaud those who realise this and choose to pursue dedicating their lives to the benefit of other people. In the end, the image of the pale blue dot, if nothing else:
“underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known: the pale blue dot.
Regardless of who you are, what you do makes a difference. You need to decide what kind of difference you want to make.