I learned a long time ago that I’m not much different from other people. Usually, if I have an idea or reaction, someone else out there has it, too. If I’m experiencing certain emotions, there are likely many others who feel the same way. So, given my mood these days, I suspect that most of us are feeling hopeless and ineffectual, slammed by the cruelty in our world and weighted with guilt and despair that we can’t fix it.

Cruelty and injustice have always existed. What’s new is our 24/7 interface with it. A steady stream of news and imagery can amplify a belief that we are useless, that anything we try to do is an inconsequential pebble lobbed at a tsunami. In that context, our actions make no difference whatsoever.

But I believe that what we do does make a difference. You make a difference.

Every time you perform an act of kindness, I am lifted. Every time you offer a hand to another person, a smile, encouragement…I am inspired to do the same. When you hold open a door for someone or greet them in a way that tells them they matter, when you respond to a simple need, offer to help with a task that seems insurmountable for one alone to handle, provide a few minutes of shelter from chaos by being fully present…then my hope is strengthened. Each time you speak and act from a place of love and light, allowing your positive energy to flow to and through others, you remind me that curling up in a helpless little ball is not an option.

Most of us are not destined to solve the world’s catastrophes in big, public ways. But the little things we do are no less universal. We never know how many other actions are triggered by our own, however small those actions seem. We can’t see where that spark might lead, what further deeds it might ignite. Never think that what you do doesn’t matter and that nobody needs you. I need you. I need the good you have to pour into this world, whether or not it’s directed toward me…and, yes, how I feel tends to reflect the feelings of others.

We see you.

Light up your part of the world. Let that light burn as brightly as it can. You are not a cog in a wheel; you are a link in a chain.