A few years ago, I watched a lecture by Ben Hammersley that changed my life. The Editor At Large at Wired UK (how fancy does that sound?) went to the company I worked for in Brazil and told us the best advice he ever got in his career: “if you want to be a war correspondent, go to a war and correspond”. Go to a war and correspond. Whatever you want to do, go and do it.
I never wanted to be a war correspondent and I don’t wanna fight any real wars, the ones that kill people and spread hate and hurt wherever they are. But the advice stuck in my head like chewing gum on the floor. I am young and full of potential. I’ll never make a difference unless I start making a difference.
It was after hearing Hammersley’s talk that I decided to quit my job and spend my money traveling the world by myself. I felt I was rotting under my office’s white lamps, losing the best of my youth to a company whose values I didn’t really agree with. By traveling, I met people from many nationalities, with various backgrounds, heard beautiful and scary life stories, lived many stories of my own. I had to reinvent myself, create a new way to earn money and proceeded on a longer quest for what is essential in life. I realized my best tool to make a difference was my ability to tell stories, so I proceeded in becoming a freelance writer and write the stories that inspire me and can inspire others.
In the middle of this road, I found out about Peace Revolution and started meditating for real. This changed my life once again. My eyes opened to see a vaster world, limitless and expanding outwards and inwards. I’m still finding my place in the causes I’m engaged, what I want professionally and personally and how I want to live, but the journey, as painful as it sometimes is, is being by far more rewarding and intriguing than that office I left in 2012.
If you are still reading this, you are probably looking for answers too. And I take Ben’s advice as my own: go to a war and correspond. Go become what you want to be.
What do you want to change in the environment you live in? Or in another place where you feel you can make a difference? You don’t have to travel the world to do that, the world is all bleeding and crying for help anywhere you go. You don’t have to quit your job to do it either, give the time you have and the time you want to dispose of – and do it seriously, with your whole self invested in it.
Start identifying your best skills and what touches you the most. It can’t be a general “the world is all wrong, I want to reset it”. Find a problem you can help solving. Meditation can be a good way to see things clearly and guide you to the best path.
Do you want to help end violence against women? The generalized hate against a specific group? Solving family conflicts? To give love and support to orphans and/or to elders? Support the improvement of the schools in your neighborhood? To collect and separate trash that accumulates in the streets? To save endangered animals? To help people discuss and learn about alternatives to the stressful world they are imposed to be? To support peace-building actions and thoughts? There are many causes you can embrace as yours, listen to the one that makes your heart sing.
After picking your cause, what could you do to improve the situation? How can you help? What abilities or potentials do you have to offer to the cause you chose? What experiences are already in place to help change it? Find a group of people that agree with you, that also hold this cause dear. You’ll be surprised about how many people are already putting all their energy into making the world a better place – they don’t often appear on regular news, but thanks to the internet we can access inspiring stories.
We’ll have many inspiring lectures on the Peace Revolution Summit, this blog will show many paths, there are thousands of TED Talks with amazing people sharing their own journeys. I also like The Daily Good news channel as a starting point, they have a huge database of projects that can help you with your own – or maybe you can help one that is already in course. You’ll see that you’re not alone in your quest!
Sometimes there are already groups working on your cause in your own community and you can join them, fuel them with your energy, workforce, experience and perspective. Sometimes there isn’t one yet – and you can start your own. Study the situation, read and listen to people that already took paths similar to yours, learn from their experience and add them up to your own, so you can start already backed-up by them.
I assure you it won’t be easy. Changing the world means getting out of the comfort zone, asking questions no one dares to ask, defying authorities that aren’t used to be questioned, swimming against the current until the new paradigm becomes the new current. It is a kind of war, against our own habits and structures, against what others think is normal, against systems that are broken. It will be hard, but at least you are doing something.
There’s no use complaining about the “grown up world” as if we weren’t a part of its structure. We are a piece of it, working for the maintenance of the established order unless we change our own course. Find your war and correspond.