Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Everyday People

It’s easy to forget that the greatest changes in the world happen little by little and are committed by people whose names will never make it into any textbooks. History is full of big names and big happenings, but often neglects to record the incremental steps that went into those names making those happenings work. The big things get remembered, but it’s the little things that matter. It’s the everyday actions of everyday people that make the world what it is.

I was reminded of this recently while listening to music. I can’t remember what I was doing at the time but, as is often the case, I had music going on in the background. I often have my music set to play everything on random (and when I say “everything” I come surprisingly close to meaning that literally), which means that I will frequently go long periods without hearing the same song repeated, or will frequently hear songs that I haven’t heard recently (using a rather loose definition of “recently”). In this case, the song was “Everyday people” by Reba McEntire and Carole King, and I remember, as the words sunk into my brain, I just stopped and started listening. Then I started grinning and had to start the song over again. If you haven’t heard it recently, check out the video below, and make sure you listen closely.

It’s a fairly short song, so it doesn’t cover much territory, but what it covers, it covers well. The song opens with a class of college seniors heading south for Spring Break but, instead of going to party, they are on their way to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity (the video even ends with a link for the Habitat for Humanity website). The second verse is about a group of friends who come together to help someone who is burdened with overwhelming medical bills, and this third verse brings us back to those Habitat houses, only this time we see the tears of joy as the college students get to show their work to the family who will be using it. It’s just people helping people with the normal business of living. No history book would ever remember the events, but the people involved would never forget. As the song says, “Everyday People are the ones who are making miracles, and it’s beautiful”.

You don’t need to change the world to change someone’s world. Every act of kindness builds on top of every other act of kindness. Like pebbles in a mosaic, you may not remember each and every stone, but the end result would not be the same if any were left missing.

Too often we fall into the trap of thinking, “I’m just one person. What difference can I make?” It only takes one person to lend a hand. It only takes one person to offer a smile. It only takes one person to give hope. With enough little differences put together, the results are indistinguishable from big differences. You can make a difference, but even if you think your difference might not be enough, you’re not the only one making a difference. They add up.

In the end, history may remember generals, great leaders, and big events, but people will remember lives lived, hearts touched, and the moments that everyday people made better for everyday people. Those big things? They have to happen too, and those of us who aren’t a part of them are often grateful for those who are, but they’re rarely the moments that define our lives. People need people. Thankfully, there’s no shortage. Everyday people change the world every day. Never forget that.

As always, all copyright of music and video remains with the artists.

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