With today's complex problems, it's easy to feel hopeless, wondering, "What can I do when the problem is so overwhelming?"
Yet the Tao Te Ching tells us that we can make a difference. Because everything is connected, our actions can ripple out to transform the world around us. The Tao leader prevails "By small actions/Accomplishing great things" (Chapter 63).
Years ago, Bobby Kennedy identified this ripple effect, saying that:
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Robert F. Kennedy, June 6, 1966 (quoted in Lopez, 2013, p. 216)
How can we do this? According to psychologist and hope researcher Shane J. Lopez "To spread hope, you have to get off the sidelines" (2013, p. 217). We have to begin taking action. We can begin creating our own ripples of hope with these three steps:
- Convert wishing into active hope. If you've been thinking, "I wish this situation were different," "I wish someone would do something about this," turn that wish into a hope: Ask yourself, "How would I like it to be instead?"
- Connect with other people, one or more like-minded friends to create a positive synergy. Brainstorm together to come up with possible steps and solutions. Combine your resources and build your energies to create a positive momentum.
- Change the situation by taking one small step to address the problem. Your positive action will increase your hope, improve the situation, and inspire others, leading to more steps, more ripples of hope to heal and transform our world (Lopez, 2013)
As the Tao tells us:
Cultivated in your soul,
The Tao brings peace to your life.
Cultivated in your home,
It brings peace with those you love.
Spreading to friends and neighbors,
It brings peace to your community.
Spreading through your communities,
It brings peace to your nation.
Spreading through the nations,
The Tao brings peace throughout the world.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 54
Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making hope happen: Create the future you want for yourself and others. New York, NY: Atria Books.