In recent years attitudes about changing the world, or at least about talking about changing the world, have shifted in a positive direction. Just a decade ago if you publicly spoke about how you would like to change the world you would quickly get strange looks, and in some more severe cases you were at risk of being locked in the special house without windows, dressed in the shirt with very comfortable long sleeves strangely buttoning in the back . And if you went a bit further back with the Wayback machine, you would find that humans were not so long ago very eager to place other fellow humans on a burning pile of sticks just for mentioning any similar sounding ideas.
That was happening because “Changing the World” has two not so very different but very unpopular brothers: “Saving the World” and “Saving Humanity.”
Saving the World is an obvious impossibility, and although metaphorically it means the same as the other two, a literal interpretation can quickly lead to an argument. Usually arguments range from “our planet has existed for billions of years and we humans are technologically capable of some very small impact just in the last fifty years” to “we are very ignorant if we think we could have any impact on our world.” Both are true, to some extent, but if we united around a plan to blow up the planet Earth, for instance, I believe that with the constant improvements in the nuclear arsenal and manufacturing we could “convert” our planet into an asteroid belt in about a hundred years from now. I am mentioning this example just to show that it is still possible to have a significant impact at the planetary level. Yeeees ..., the rest of the universe, given its size, wouldn’t be too damaged or disturbed about this event. In our history, on the other hand, the “saving the world” task was usually entrusted to gods, demigods, or especially God-gifted people, which some other people call prophets. So, by saying you want to do something similar means that somehow you want to take their jobs, and other people would get really upset about this, so you would risk being locked in the special house without windows etc. etc.
Saving Humanity is the younger, smaller brother of “Saving the World.” He is usually a people-centered person. He likes putting humans in the middle of his affairs, like they matter, probably because subjects who use his services belong to the same species. Saving humanity is a reasonable task of self-preservation, and probably any species would do the same.
But in the case of humans, for some reason this subject usually creates many points for very long debates, generating questions like: Why do people need saving? Is there any point to saving humanity? Do humans deserve to be saved? What do we need to be saved from? Who will save us? And the list goes on, and on, and on.... In fact, that list is more disturbing than any actual problem we have to face or any solution we may think of. In order to outline the simple problem and propose a solution, one needs to pass through the nine levels of hell of a deep philosophically-emotional scientifically-religious megalomaniac discussion.
This approach, like his bigger brother, suffers from the same illness, a belief that saving humanity has to be done by someone with super-special-god-like powers. So, if there is some individual or group of people who can really do this correctly, it has to be the God, the son of God, the official person from the God service — usually known as a prophet, aliens, or something else unknown, everything except humans, especially not the live ones. This attitude basically means that a huge percentage of the population thinks that humans are capable of creating huge piles of shit but not very capable of cleaning up after themselves. In their minds this can be summarized with the following distribution:
Humans = Troublemakers 100%, Responsibility 0%.
Changing the world is the most politically correct term to use, as its literal meaning is the same as its metaphorical one, so there’s no confusion. Just by being on Earth, at any given moment, and doing something or even nothing we are already changing the world. Furthermore the construct “Changing the World” is not even a statement of intention, but a scientific and obvious fact, similar to breathing — something we do all the time. And, no one can blame you for something that everyone does all the time. That being said, you are now safe to go about your business, safe from the obnoxious people willing to endlessly argue about your plans and shatter your dreams. “Changing the world” is also very good because it does not place any expectation on you — you do not have to save, help, or rescue anyone, because change simply means change. For instance, if you start working on your plan and then at some point you hugely f*ck up , you can still say that this is exactly what you wanted in the first place. If your plan blows up in your face you have still won, as any change — positive or negative, small or big — is still a change. So you are safe from every possible side and angle.
Now, the only thing left is for you to decide what kind of impact you want to make — do you want to make a positive or negative change in this world. How big that change will be sometimes will depend on you and sometimes on society. Unexpectedly, things can become an instant, overnight hit and change the lives of many, or they can go completely awry.
But don’t sweat it!
If you have dreams, and you think you can change the world for the better — just do it. Never allow your insecurities to get in the way of your dreams. Never allow other people to tell you what is possible or not; you are the one who needs to discover these things for yourself. Maybe you will fail miserably and maybe they will be right on some points, but the knowledge you will gain on that journey will outweigh the possible failures you will face and will help you to achieve some amazing things.