Mother Teresa was once quoted as saying: “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
A very simple, yet poignant expression of how the perception of one’s impact on the life of another compels one to action. This quote also resonates with me on a more complex level. Couched in Mother Teresa’s statement was her innate ability to look directly in the face of systemic poverty and see the eyes of a starving child. It was her capacity to hear beyond the critiques of her humanitarian approach in order to listen to the sheer elation of a paralyzed person receiving love and care. How does someone so unassuming encounter such massive injustices and still find the fortitude to want to make a difference in the lives of so many?
As part of a casual conversation that took place since I have been here in Sudan, a good friend referenced the importance of being able to recognize the “ants” as well as the “elephants.” This statement sparked an intense period of reflection for me. How often in life have we only paid attention to the “elephants” while overlooking the “ants?” The “elephants,” in this case, are the people, places, things, and ideas that capture most of our attention. They are usually the things that we feel bear the greatest impact on our lives, requiring our greatest level of investment. In most cases, we perceive that finding a solution for these “elephants” will bring the greatest satisfaction; or if we fail, bring the greatest possibility for pain, in turn, validating our need for heightened personal investment. READ MORE