But what can I do?

Do not inflict your will. Just give love. The soul will take that love and put it where it can best be used.

Written by Kathy Dickson, LCSW

It feels like every day there is another story on the news that leaves me heartbroken. I feel afraid. I feel sad. I feel helpless and hopeless. I feel compelled to do something, anything, to make things better. But what can I do? What can one person do?

As I sought comfort and guidance I found myself re-reading the Preamble for the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. What I read resonated with me in a way I am sure it didn’t 18 years ago when I officially became a Social Worker. Here are 2 excerpts as well as a link to the entire document.

The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.

The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers throughout the profession’s history, are the foundation of social work’s unique purpose and perspective:

  • service
  • social justice
  • dignity and worth of the person
  • importance of human relationships
  • integrity
  • competence.

This constellation of core values reflects what is unique to the social work profession. Core values, and the principles that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.

Source: Code of Ethics (English and Spanish) – National Association of Social Workers

While I long ago let go of the notion that I was going to “save the world,” I have never given up on the idea that I can make the world better, even if it is only for a little while and only affecting a few people. After reading this again, I was inspired to make a list for myself of the things I can do to make the world better and figured I would share it so other people searching for answers might also be inspired.

  • Above all else, respond with love and not fear.
  • Open my ears more than my mouth. Really listen to people when they discuss their experiences and their perceptions. That is THEIR truth. Their truth does not diminish mine. Their truth is just as valid as mine. I shall seek understanding, even when I do not agree- no- ESPECIALLY when I do not agree.
  • Seek the good and the positive and share it. Pay attention when others are spreading joy and hope.
  • Before posting to social media or responding to someone else’s post, ask myself if I am contributing to the solution or to the problem. Am I being constructive or destructive. If I am not contributing in a meaningful, positive way, best to keep that to myself.
  • Teach my daughter to be kind and curious.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the little things.

I have no huge, life changing answers, but imagine what the world would be like if more and more people starting doing more and more “little” things in love and kindness. We may not save the world, but we would be making the world a better and better place.


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