What if I told you that the way to change the world was not to be bold, resolute, brilliant, or even compassionate? What if I told you that the way to change the world was to be sad?
It sounds so improbable. When we think of those who have taught us the most about meaningful change, we think of people who are very, very brave, say, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama. Unwavering. Deep. Devoted to others and willing to die for what they believe, quite literally.
How do you get to be such a person?
Well, I have no idea, but I would put money on the idea that the ground, path, and fruition of their lives is sadness.
When you look out at this world, what you see will make you very, very sad. This is good. You are seeing clearly. Genuine sadness gives rise, spontaneously, naturally, completely, to the wish—no, the longing—to be of benefit to others. When your wish to help is rooted in love (i.e. sadness), it is effective. There is no question.
But because it is so uncomfortable, we immediately want to turn sadness into what we imagine will hurt less: anger,…