Everything I read about on starting your own social enterprise asks you to choose and focus on a problem you are truly passionate about. What cause am I passionate about? Oh, many things: poverty; children’s education; gender equality; the homeless; people stuck in war torn lands with no shelter or money; fair trade; care for old people; climate change.
But, do I really care enough? When you think about the reality of contributing towards solving a problem by setting up your own social enterprise, it’s so easy for your selfishness to take reign: I would have to use my free time and holidays to work on it! I would eventually have to leave my cushy job! I wouldn’t make much money! I wouldn’t be able to go dancing as often! What about my yoga classes, I am progressing so well! I may not be able to take that long due trip to Argentina! The list is endless.
Conveniently supporting these thoughts are other thoughts, like: What do I really have to offer? How can I use my skills to help people? What are my skills? I have no experience! Etc, etc.
Using these as excuses is just terrible. It’s the discomfort and fear of stepping out of your comfort zone and making compromises for a cause that is bigger than you. For your “big love”.
In a recent op-ed in the NY Times, David Brooks talks about his concept of “big love” (inspiration for this post) which – to my dismay – was not romantic or relationship love of any sort; that is small love (!).
He says big loves are “sublime”. “They involve awe, veneration, maybe even a touch of fear. A sublime thing, like space or mathematics, over-awes natural human dimensions and reminds you that you are a small thing in a vast cosmos. Big loves inspire courage and greatness. To achieve great things we have to relearn the ability to desire big things.” (paraphrased)
What is that big thing I desire? Reading this presented the harsh realisation that maybe I am not ready to “be the change you want to see in the world”. Maybe I am more compassionate towards problems rather than passionate about solving them. But then doesn’t it all begin with compassion?
Perhaps this is a reminder that “making a difference” doesn’t need to mean “making a colossal difference”. Even if whatever we do makes a small difference, that is something. Maybe we will find something that allows us to divide our glass evenly between living our life and giving back. Maybe our small something will grow. Maybe it won’t. We just need to #startwithsomething.
Yours philosophically, A