As a naive young college graduate in the late 1990s, I can remember actually telling people who interviewed me as I embarked upon a career in the nonprofit sector that I wanted to help save the world, or something like that. Nearly 20 years later, I look back on my career in human services and wonder if I have actually made any difference at all, let alone save the world. Yes, I have touched thousands of lives, listened and offered understanding, created opportunities, made visible and tangible positive changes, and stuck my neck out to get a result that would otherwise be impossible given the intricacies and bureaucracies of nonprofit and government systems. But during that time, is the world really any better off? And if it is, can I really claim to have had any influence at all?
Who am I to save the world? And who am I to determine that the world is in need of saving in the first place?
I wonder what the world would be like today if I had chosen a career in banking, or real estate, or hospitality, or marine biology instead. Would the world be any different? Would the lives of those thousands of people be the same, or even better off that they are as a result of my intervention?
We can never truly know what the impact of our actions will be. We can only act with a hopeful heart filled with love. If we all did that, all of the time, imagine how beautiful the world might be.