If you have never heard of Malala, I urge you to look her up. She survived being shot by the Taliban for advocating for education for women and girls, an position that made her a target. That shot, however, made her voice reverberate around the world and into my heart. You see, I have always believed people can shape the world around them, that in fact, people, yes people, can change the world.
This has always sounded so exaggerated to many. Unbelievable even. And frankly, we don't know if in fact we ourselves will change the world. But being open to the possibility is a prerequisite condition for each of us to do so.
While that is the first step, I believe Malala exemplifies the second step: to live our beliefs, to be courageous enough to stand up for our beliefs even in the face of staunch, even violent opposition. When I think about her story, I wonder if I would have that courage? Do you?
What has crystalized inside of me is rededication, a doubling down if you will, to my mission at Fed By Threads, to stand up for safe working conditions for garment workers around the world, to stand up for the environment, to stand up for animals, to stand up for reshaping body image in mass media and building healthy self-esteem in current and future generations.
I believe in the power of choice. I believe we can change the world we live in. I believe we are surrounded by like-minds who share common goals and dreams, it's just a matter of finding them. I believe in living a life filled with integrity and compassion. I believe millions are making small but important decisions that are underpinning movements for change that are gaining unstoppable momentum. The very corporations that millions have protested against would be powerless if we stopped by buying what they are selling.
I look back at the last ten years of my life and have seen my changes I truly couldn't imagine possible. Back then, I saw others making changes in lifestyle and I truly believed there was something special about them that out of my grasp. There isn't. You are capable. Your choices matter. Your choices have an impact.
Just ask the local farmer if purchasing food from them makes a difference in their life? Just ask the seamstress who has a good-paying job making clothes not in a sweatshop if buying her clothing makes a difference. Just ask the builder of smaller homes rather than McMansions if buying the house they made makes a difference to them. Just ask the cow you didn't eat if being alive for the natural duration of their life feels good and I bet if they could talk, they would thank you.
Every choice we make has some form of a ripple. It is up to us if we want those ripples to wash over the world positively or negatively.
Malala showed me that if she can stand up against rogue violence to demand access to education for women and girls, and empower people through the pen not the gun, then I can surely make an impact too.
And to be clear, you don't have to be an internationally renown nobel laureate to have an impact: make small doable decisions each month. They pile up. I promise. And in a few years you too will look back and marvel at how far you have come.
If you are wondering what small baby steps of change you can make for you and your family, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Together we can change the world.
-Alok Appadurai is co-founder of Fed By Threads, a writer, a social entrepreneur, a public speaker, an animal advocate and environmentalist, as well as a proud father.
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