I remember reading a story to my children about a desert nomad who had a camel that kept asking to come into his tent. Of course, the man told the camel that he could not come in, because obviously camels do not belong inside tents with people. As further support for his refusal, the man pointed out that there was simply not room inside his tent for both himself and the camel. Then there was the night with a terrible wind storm and the camel asked if he could please just at least put his poor nose and mouth inside the tent flap because the sand flying about him was so unbearable. The man, feeling bad for his poor camel, forgot that the camel could close its nostrils, and let him put just his mouth and nose inside the flap. This was not the best situation for the man, because then some of the wind and sand started to blow into the tent. Then the camel asked if he could put his whole head in because his poor eyes and ears were getting irritated by the sand. The man unwisely relented. As the story progressed, the camel moved bit by bit into the tent until the man was kicked out because there really was not room for them both inside the tent. This story has been used for ages to illustrate the importance of holding on to values and considering the long term effects of seemingly small acquiescence. What may seem like a small and harmless thing, even sometimes things that seem caring and just, can eventually lead to things that we would never have accepted in the beginning. It is therefore imperative to consider future possibilities and long-term consequences of anything that may seem to be just a little uncomfortable, like the camel’s nose.
As we discussed last month, we each have an internal compass that can help us to make decisions and recognize what is true. We can ask hard questions and research the motives of those who propose changes that may impact our families and society. We can work together to stand for what we feel is best.
Because we believe in the Model of Powerful Impact, we can be confident that however small our influence may seem, it is powerful. Women have long been the guardians of society, even before the modern victories of suffrage and equal protection under the law. It was the influence of women that convinced the men who held the power of the vote to extend it to women. We must not be afraid to stand up and speak out.
Another fable that has always stayed with me is that of the thirsty crow. The crow found a pitcher, but the water in the bottom of it was too low for the crow to reach. The crow did not knock the pitcher over to break it. He did not try to use large stones that were too difficult for him to lift. By patiently and carefully adding pebbles, he was able to get the water to rise to the level he could drink.
Sometimes it is easy for us to tell ourselves that our small contributions won’t really make a difference. Does one more signature on a petition really matter? Does one more phone call to a congressional representative really matter? Does my presence at a school board meeting or a protest help? Do my few hours of volunteer time have any value? Does my small donation even make a difference? The answer to all of those questions is an emphatic yes! Just like the pebbles that the crow used to raise the water level, each small act is powerful and important.
Individually, we may seem small, but collectively, we are an ocean!