Clearing The Field
It was a lively carnival atmosphere. Hundreds of people were jam-packed on a field little more than two football fields in size. A gigantic electronic screen had been set up to beam a series of movies.
Deep into the night, the show was over and it was time to go home. Before the crowd began to disperse, an announcement boomed over the public address system : "Please do not litter. Clear the area of all trash as you leave. Thank you for your co-operation".
By the time the vast majority of the crowd had left, it was clear most of the people did not hear or understand the plea, or they just did not bother. Thousands - literally thousands - of coke cans, water bottles, plastic bags, newspapers and other items lay strewn all over the pitch. Who were the poor souls responsible for clearing up this mess?
Within minutes, most of the audience had departed. Some continued to hang around, either having planned to stay and just relax under the night sky, waiting for friends, or not wanting to jostle with the leaving crowd.
Facing the huge mess of rubbish, a handful were either tempted or felt inclined to help clean up. But all of them had reservations.
"What would others think of me?
"What would my friends think of me?"
"Would people think I'm stupid? After all, I'm not going to be paid or anything."
"Would people think I'm just trying to show off that I'm a nice person?"
"It's not my job. I'd better leave it to the people in charge."
"Nobody's going to thank me or appreciate what I'm going to do. Why bother dirtying my hands?"
"I'm in a hurry to get somewhere."
"I'm just one person. What difference could I possibly make?"
Somewhere near one corner of the field, a teenage girl named Gerry didn't allow herself to be stopped from doing what she felt she should do. Spontaneously, she took a couple of trash bags and began going around picking up rubbish. Admittedly, she only covered a small area. More importantly, however, seeing her in action melted the reservations a few others near her had in their minds. Before long, they joined in.
Soon, pockets of people were slowly but surely emptying the field of items which did not belong there. Some worked alone. Some silently. Some in groups. Some jokingly and playfully, laughing and fooling around. It was an inspiring sight, people who did not know each other, working together towards a common good cause, all for no reward except their self-satisfaction. In a mere twenty minutes, the unsightliness which dominated earlier was gone.
Gerry was a little stone that was thrown into the pond. As the stone hit the still water, ripples were formed, beautiful ripples that spread far and wide, much further than imagined possible.
Don't ever underestimate the effect and influence each one of us has on others, and on the world. You, too, can spread ripples.