Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
It matters what we do, day in and day out, on the smallest scale. In fact, that is where it matters most. I have always had a bit of guilt that I was not more politically active on a grand scale. My introverted nature was a big factor, as was the personal work I needed to do, but also it was hard to know whether the “movements” of my day were really helping or further polarizing people (for more on this idea, see Activism and Riding the Currents).
Certainly the civil rights movement has made a difference, as has the struggle for women’s rights. But it is the decisions made by individuals back home, day by day, that are the proof. And those actions stem from our thoughts and often require courage. As the Buddha says (from another previous post):
The thought manifests as the word;
the word manifests as the deed;
the deed develops into habit;
and habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its way with care,
and let it spring from love
born out of concern for all beings.