Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Be the Change: What does it mean for you?

be the changeGandhi’s words “Be the change you want to see in the world.” surface time and again and each time I read them, I cannot grasp the meaning in a way that makes sense, that sounds, “Aha! Now I know how to attend to this issue!”

See, part of the problem is that I tend to take things literally. How can I be a “change”. It’s a verb! Or, as a noun, it’s an abstract concept of something that has undergone transformation.

Did he mean, live by example? If I am unhappy with the way industry is polluting my world, is living in a non-polluting manner what Gandhi had in mind? If I am unhappy with the current state of politics, how do I apply these words? If I cannot fight city hall, then accept it, change my myself?

How do you interpret, “Be the change”?

 ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Inspired by Deborah’s Post This Mud-luscious World of Woe and Bliss 

Categories: Blog Blog Blog, Personal Growth

Tags: ,

36 replies

  1. Live by example. Speak out. Try to influence people. If you see something that needs to be done and nobody else is doing it, maybe you should try. Of course it’s much easier said than done, but then again, Gandhi did it.


  2. Be the instrument of change. Our lives have a domino effect around us. If we want the world to be a better, happy place then we must take the first step. Our actions will affect others and they will pass it on.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. First you have a choice to make. Who do you want to please? Gandhi? Society? Yourself? Your friends? The next generation? God?
    For the record I feel he was trying to cover a lot of things at the same time. Like saying “Be good.” or “Do the right thing.”
    Good luck Maggie 🙂


  4. Do the things you want the world to do. It’s not the process of change that we should become, rather the end result. “I wish the world was a more peaceful place.” Okay, then become peaceful. In other words, the world will never change if you don’t change it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Living your values. We can’t all make Ghandhi-size changes. We can affect lives around us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have always interpreted this quote to mean, for instance, if it annoys you when people skip in line while waiting to check out at a store (this happened to me recently), don’t ever skip people in line. So, I suppose much of the quote’s meaning for me is to not be a hypocrite! I think of it in positive terms too though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Doing something that helps someone else, Striving to be a better person each day and to be present in the lives of those you love.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I went to a Catholic school run by nuns and it was ground into us (or at least me) that the Golden Rule was to treat others how we wanted to be treated. The fact that the nuns never exhibited that behaviour is a totally different discussion.
    Anyway – for me, I’ve always interpretted Gandhi’s statement as a variation on that Golden Rule. If I can’t change my behaviour, how can I expect “the world” to change?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I suppose I interpret that (which I haven’t come across before, btw) as “reflect through your own actions the change you want to see” …
    Like most quotes of this kind, Maggie, it’s a lot easier to say than to do.


  10. Could it be in thinking, if it can’t be a more material change?


  11. I first heard the quote in different words (well, I s’pose that makes it a misquote!), but apparently it helped. How I heard it was, “Whatever it is you most desire for yourself, that is what you must be(come) in the world.” What I most wanted was a me-welcomed hug. I must be the hug (or the listening ear, or whatever) that others are waiting for.

    Did that help?


  12. I does help! Thanks for this!


  13. Maggie – I had composed a comment for your post because, you made me think about it. I don’t do a lot of deep thinking so it was tough but, once I figured out the secret of life I was going to spill it in my comment, on your blog. I typed it all out last night and then deleted it without hitting the “POST” button. You don’t need dribble from me! Hell, you’re listening to Gandhi! You got this!


  14. I think it simply means that as the ONE thing in the world we can effectively change IS ourselves, we should change OURSELVES to reflect the larger change we want to see in the world. If we do that, we have a 100% chance of changing the world in JUST that way. Even if we ourselves are the ONLY change that is still 100% MORE of whatever that is than there was before we made that decision and took that action. It’s the same as Christ saying, “Turn the other cheek.” Basically, if you don’t want to fight, just don’t fight. The I-Ching says a similar thing, “To defeat evil, make resolute progress toward the good.” I think it’s the same thing as the bit in the Bible about the Mote in our neighbor’s eye and the beam in one’s own.


  15. P.S. A bad person can apply the principle equally. “Whoa, if I want more violence in the world, I just need to get violent.” I don’t think there is built into the words any intrinsic moral stance. We see it, though, because it’s Gandhi whom we perceive as having been a good man. Charles Manson could say the same thing and we’d all be writing something COMPLETELY different! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What an excellent bunch of responses! I had to sit back and think on this one, Maggie, and in the meantime all this goodness rushed in! I don’t think that statement is meant to be easy to understand and encapsulate intellectually. I think it’s meant to bounce and roll around inside your head making sparks. But I also think our hearts understand it perfectly. You have one view to the world and the opportunity to live your life in a manner that creates your own reality every day, every thought you have, every action you take. In the end, our own thoughts and actions are the ones that truly shape our worlds, for those are the ones that we can control. The rest of it takes care of itself.


    • Aamanda! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I’m really glad that you wrote what you did.
      What you say resonates (and bounces and sparks!) with me.
      It’s funny. One of my “problems” is that a lot of my thought process is conducted at the gut level, intuitively. So when I see something like this phrase, “Be the change” and it doesn’t immediately make intellectual sense, I start to fret. How can I apply the wisdom if I don’t know what it means? Give me examples, paint me a picture!
      Because, another of my problems is that I want to get it right! And if someone like Ghandi has gone through all the trouble to be smart and wise and wonderful, then I best do my part and follow the word to the letter.
      Oh goofy me.


      • Not goofy at all! Thoughtful and introspective. It would be great if everything were that clear. I’d like that myself, so simple to say, but so mind boggling at the same time. I really think that at a certain point the only one that can get it right is you, because it’s your life, nobody else’s. Your have to learn to trust your own heart, and nobody can hear your heart speak as well as you.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you, sincerely. I needed to hear that today. It’s been a bit of a tough one. Bless you.


Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s