Chaplain's thought for the week
Revd Tom considers how we can make the world a better place in small ways
Welcome to the Autumn term!
In Senior School Chapel this term I’m basing the talks on a line from our Founders’ Day service: “Leave the world a better place than you found it.” I’ve always thought this is an excellent exhortation. We’ll be looking at some really big themes, including challenging prejudice, the plight of refugees, ethical shopping, what we can do for the environment and how we can stand up for justice.
Sometimes, of course, it can feel like the problems of the world are just too big to cope with. What on earth can we do about the frightening situation we see unfolding in North Korea, for example? There are so many problems in the world it can feel overwhelming, and we can be tempted to think that we can make no difference at all. However, I think we need to encourage our young people’s hope and idealism. I love the Mother Teresa quote: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
This week I have suggested to our pupils a number of very small ways in which they can make ripples in their daily life in Exeter School in response to the teaching of Jesus that we love our neighbour as ourselves. These are the five ways I gave our pupils – they’re not ground-breaking or particularly exciting, but perhaps good reminders for us all:
- Smile. Smiling at people makes such a massive difference in the world. You can brighten up someone’s day by smiling at them. You can put them in a better mood. You can make someone who’s feeling low feel better about themselves. Smiling is infectious. Try it.
- Show kindness. It doesn’t matter who or what it is: thank someone for something you take for granted usually; offer to help a friend out; call a friend you know is lonely; invite someone for a meal; praise someone behind their back. Kindness is always appreciated.
- Make someone laugh. We all need laughter in our lives. Laughter makes us feel good and helps us to forget about out problems. Friendships are formed when laughter is shared. Laughter is always best when it makes other people feel better about themselves – and it should never be at someone else’s expense. Try to laugh at yourself; don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Encourage someone. Think about a time when someone said something encouraging to you. Perhaps a time when they noticed you doing something well or helped you to believe in yourself. Those are great moments. How can you encourage other people around you? Don’t be embarrassed about it – just get on with it: ‘you look nice today’; ‘I was really impressed at your answer in that lesson’; ‘you’re really funny’; ‘you were awesome in rugby practice’.
- Include. As humans we have a tendency to want to form groups and decide who’s in and who’s not. This makes us feel safe. We can easily exclude people without even thinking about it. But being excluded can be one of the most painful things we can experience. You can make a massive difference to the world in a small-scale way by including people.
Five ideas I gave to our pupils to make Exeter School a better place. Imagine if everyone did those five things every day… and then you magnified that across the whole world… wouldn’t the world be a better place?