I recently watched the movie 12 Years a Slave with my wife. It’s not exactly the feel good movie of the year. It’s more of a “Contemplate everything you thought about your faith and God and justice and the United States and race and privilege and cry yourself to sleep” film. Safe to say it messed me up.
It’s funny how you can know this terrible history about your country, but seeing it on a screen can still wreck you. I was angry. I wondered how this could have happened, and worse—I wondered how it could still be happening today. Because it is. All over the world. The truth is there are people in need everywhere. Every day. There are hungry, poor, abused, forgotten, and enslaved.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you look at the mass need. It’s easy to feel guilty when you look at all you may have.
American guilt is a plague on many of us. But the thing about guilt is that it really does nothing. Guilt only produces pity. Sure, guilt may give a few bucks here or there, or guilt may even devote a life to good deeds, but then you are the one who becomes enslaved. Guilt will grip you and not let go. And you will never give enough to satisfy guilt. Guilt is insatiable.
There are so many organizations all over the world designed to tackle so many needs. If I spent all my money and sold everything I owned, I’d probably be able to donate about five cents to every single organization. There is no way I could ever give enough to meet the needs of the world. When you set your sights on changing the world, you usually end up feeling guilty and you give up.
Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” If we look at the millions in need, it is overwhelming. We feel guilty and helpless at the same time. But what if we’re not called to change the entire world? What if we’re called to change our world?
Now that sounds doable.
I don’t think we have to look too far to find a need. And I believe if everyone focused on changing their world, the entire world would be changed. Someone may have a conviction to dig wells in Guatemala, and that’s great! But what if your conviction is to tutor students after school in your city? You can’t be in both places at once. You must follow your conviction and promptings.
That is the challenge and difference maker: we must distinguish between guilt and conviction.
If we look at the mass, we will never act. Start looking for the Ones. You probably know their names already. What are you being moved to? What is the conviction stirring in your bones directing you towards?
Go change your world.
If you are looking for a One – there’s a girl named Norma in Honduras who needs eye surgery so she can see for the first time in her life. We are raising money here on this fundraising page, and I am also hosting a comedy night in Jacksonville Beach on May 1, details here. We’d love for you to join in and help!