Over 800,000 volunteers planted saplings across the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recently. The tree-planting initiative was part of a $6.5 billion-dollar effort to reforest at least 12 percent of India by 2030. It wasn’t a publicity stunt, nor was it funded by George Soros – Hungarian-American investor, business magnate, and philanthropist – but Uttar Pradesh is now in the Guinness Book for breaking the previous record of planting the most trees in one day, previously held by Pakistan.
What Can We Learn From this Amazing Example of Good Put into Action?
What can planting 50 million trees in one day teach us about our failed attempts to create change in our own respective countries? And what really makes a good citizen on this planet? Is it marching before the White House? Is it having certain rights and privileges, because of what your zip code is? Or is there more to it?
There’s an old story about a blind man who falls in a well. Another man was watching the whole time; as the man walked toward the well and lost his footing. So who is to blame here? The blind man, or the man who chose to be blind – the man who was watching? The way you answer this question will teach you a lot about what it means to really be a good citizen – it has little to do with political or geographic boundaries or inclinations, and much more to do with your attitude and actions.
Look at Ron Finley, for example, the ‘gangsta’ guerilla gardener working all over South Central, LA. He plants gardens that feed people. He started without permission from any government body. He simply saw barren, neglected strips of land along busy streets and put in some organic soil and vegetable seeds. When the deep state started to question his actions, he won the right to continue. But he never asked for permission.
Another man, Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng, single-handedly planted a 1,360-acre forest, preventing desertification, soil erosion, and the devastation of local wildlife. He started the project when he was a teenager, and kept at it for 30 years. He asked for no help, (he says no one was interested) and, once again, he did not seek permission. He simply saw a problem and went about fixing it.
Now that India has planted 50 million trees in 24-hours, what is our excuse for not making real change in the world? Is it our representatives? Is it our friends’ ideas of us? Is it our dedication to upholding a false two-party narrative which has already proven to be defunct?
Small Changes Can Still Make a Difference
Imagine all the good you could do by taking one proactive, positive step every day. Just one. I don’t mean marching – although that is great too. I don’t mean reasserting your opinion to people who don’t really have any interest in listening to it, nor reading yet another petition with a million signatures. What if you, personally, took action and started to change your world? Are you ready for the miracles that would transpire?
One man, in the Florida Everglades, is saving all the stray dogs he can find. Antonio Inoki fed 1,000 homeless people in a city park in Japan one afternoon, an act he’s done twelve times before. And then there’s Sgt. Shamar Thomas, who kept 30 NY policemen in check who were dressed in riot gear in the peaceful, downtown U.S. city.
These individuals are just everyday people; they’re not necessarily rich, or famous, or have a lot of time on their hands; in fact, they’re sometimes faced with challenges. But they carry on anyway. With a bit of tenacity and determination, we all have the power to make a difference in this world; big or small. You can change everything. It starts with YOU. The power of ONE.