In the process of writing books about the Holocaust, it was inevitable that I repeatedly encountered the name of Hitler. While I suppose that some world residents during the period of 1939 to 1945 didn’t hear his name, the truth is that he changed the world.
It was a change for the worse, to be sure, although I believe that many felt that his beliefs were admirable. But isn’t it possible for one person to change the world for the better? Surely, most of us would be more receptive to that form of change.
Think real hard. How many people in history changed the world in a positive way? Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Steve Jobs all made major impacts but I’m sure that many people, especially in third world countries, haven’t heard of any of them.
I’m always an educator and it occurs to me that we have the responsibility to tell our students that they can be that one person who has the potential to make powerful and lasting influence on the world. And why not?
My assumption is that most of us do want to modify our world for the better. But teaching the method through which it can be done must be as individual as those hearing the lesson. Do you want to build something? Do you want to destroy something evil such as crime, hunger, greed, violence, or poverty? Clearly, making one or more of these go away will enhance civilization.
This is not an occasion for skepticism or cynicism. We must tell others, children and adults, that they have the capacity to improve the world in which we live, if only they seize that opportunity. Furthermore, I believe that our survival as a civilization depends on it.
Here’s why: Most of our fellow occupants on earth are content with mediocrity and not making waves. If everyone traveled that path, what would happen to discovery, invention, and creativity?
If you’re wondering if I practice what I preach, I do. While I have no delusions that any of my books will change the world in any material way, I write with the sincerity that they can. If it’s not through my writing, I can change a child’s world by believing in that student and encouraging him or her to greatness. Any of my students, all of my students can improve our planet in as many areas as it can be improved.
Sometimes, all it takes is one more vote of encouragement. If you’ve received that vote, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you will remember that as well. Shalom.