I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a book while waiting for a train last week, wandering around the bookshop with an hour to pass. The book was Small World, Big Ideas edited by Satish Kumar, and it gave me the inspiration I have been looking for. For those that don’t know, Satish Kumar is a former Jain monk and long-term peace and environmental activist (For information about his life’s work and more visit http://www.resurgence.org/satish-kumar/ the magazine for which he works as Editor-in-Chief). The book was published in 2012, and I am so glad to have come across it.
While I was intrigued by the title I was somewhat nervous about the term ‘activist’ which drums up the most awful and violent images in most of our minds. What I in fact got from this book was a reimagining of the term activist – in the most positive and inspiring way possible. The book is a collection of mini biographies, with people such as Caroline Lucas, Deepak Chopra and filmmaker Franny Armstrong discussing their ‘big ideas’ – how they are trying to change the world for the better. The most beautiful part of the book is how peaceful their stories are. The integrity of the people in the book shone through in their words and the achievements of these individuals is astonishing.
I am generally an optimist. I am one of ‘those people’ who believe anyone can make a difference, which is why I fight to change things. As a public health nurse, if I didn’t believe in people’s inherent capacity for change I would be in the wrong job. The book came to me at a time when my usually unwavering optimism was taking a bit of a hit. Work stresses and depressing world news items got on top of me, as they inevitably do for all of us at some point. Thank goodness that’s over! Can’t try and tackle a problem as big climate change or try to motivate others with that sort of attitude! So it’s back to optimism and motivation for me.
The book was beautifully written, inspiring to the core. I would highly recommend it to anyone feeling in need of a little boost. Especially those of us who embrace the notion of peaceful activism. It can be a hard, lonely road! And for those people that you know who are maybe in need of a little gentle persuasion to begin to act on their ‘big ideas’, this would make a perfect gift.
A website based on the ideas within the book can be found here http://www.smallworldbigideas.org/