Making a Difference


So I did this random search on google. How many people do we end up meeting in our lifetime. The range is between 10,000 to 80,000! And no… this has got nothing to do with meeting people in virtual world. The number might become astronomical if we take virtual into account.

But the range is still huge. I never realised it would be this big. And that made me wonder. These are the number of lives I will touch in my life time and they would further touch so many more. It pretty much is the principle that works in those MLM models of marketing i guess. But that is not the context for this post.

I actually wondered. Given the life stage I am at, the number of people I have met will already be huge. Did I make a difference in their lives? Even if it was minimal. Was the difference good or is that an experience they would wish to forget. And did it then, have a cascading effect.

Most people we meet, we never think about making a difference. In fact, more often than not, while we are talking to them, in our mind we are wondering about our personal gains from this meeting. Some interactions are just one time and others could be a lifetime (doesn’t mean we are making a positive difference to their lives and hence a lifetime of interaction. It’s just that they have been placed in our immediate environment for a longer period of time).

We all like to believe that we are not selfish and we always make a positive difference. It’s the fault of others that they can’t see or feel. Umm if that was the case, why would there be so much angst in the world or we will carry negativity within us? Or there will be so much hatred and violence? The fact is that we all want our gain. We are selfish as hell. (Apology for all the CSR initiatives, our charity or all the work of NGOs… there is always a motive and it is not altruism).

You might say it is a cynical view but think about it. When was the last time you met a new person and you did not think of a gain? Be it emotional, physical or materialistic. When was the last time you had a relationship for a sufficiently long period of time (am not talking about marriage or a personal relationship)? You will struggle to name one meaningful relationship.

And no… this will not change ever. Being selfish and motivated is in our DNA. ‘Pay it forward’ happens only in movies (you should watch it..). Greater good is a great philosophy but like all philosophical platitudes, it means nothing at individual level.

I may choose now to make a positive difference to the lives am now going to touch in the balance life, but it won’t happen. It won’t happen because social good is not something my mind is conditioned for. Nobody’s is.

But yes… if there is a collectivism around this thought, it might happen. Not in our lifetimes but as something the generations to follow will believe in and work on it.

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