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Kasey Speakman
Kasey Speakman

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Does my job make a difference?

This is a question I sometimes struggle with. My best skill set is as a developer. Aside from applying my trade indirectly (creating public awareness websites, sending money, etc.), my capabilities do not engage the most fundamental problems of our world. Probably nearly any job could struggle with this question. And even the person whose job it is to hand out the food to starving people probably struggles when they know injustice (e.g. warlords, gangs) will take it away.

So where does that leave us? A common root in most of the really desperate problems is our inhumanity toward one another. Mother Teresa is known for spending her life helping the poorest of the poor. Yet she famously said: "The way you help heal the world is that you start with your own family."

I thought we were talking about jobs? Well, she also said "The problem with our world is that we draw the circle of family too small." Because of the nature of my work and thought processes, it is very easy for me to see my co-workers like computers. I need to provide them inputs to get outputs. But their humanity doesn't actually turn off when they walk in the door to work. The basic conditions of being human is the need to feel connected to other people (even introverts) and valued as a person.

If I take care of those around me with compassionate humanity, then I can help foster a positive change in my own circles. That kind of environment is beautiful and infectious. And it leads people to recreate it in their other circles.

Examples of caring for my group

  • Showing mutual respect by accepting (and ideally valuing) that people have views different from my own.
  • Making human-to-human connections by sharing life - a common starter is getting to know favorite interests and hobbies.
  • Being appreciative, not just for what they did for me.

It is fair to say the effort is often not easy. And some people can make it really, really hard. (Maybe they were conditioned with toxic environments, so they seek to make every group toxicly familiar.) Dynamics are different in every group, so tactics to take care of your circles -- friends, family, co-workers, etc. -- will greatly vary.

I'm also not saying to twist your mustache each morning while thinking of schemes to manipulate people into liking each other. (That's really bad too.) It is more of a change in perspective. In whatever situation comes up, instead of focusing on the best benefit for my circumstances (as is natural), think of the best benefit for everyone in the circle. How can everyone be respected? How can everyone be valued? If possible, how can everyone have their individual preferences engaged? (Because even knowing their likes and dislikes indicates a connection to that person.) It is difficult when you are the only one doing this. But when the idea latches on, the group turns into something that has a real impact.

Do I do a perfect job of this? By no means! (You probably wouldn't have to look far to find evidence of that on this very site.) But I feel that trying still makes a difference in my small circles of the world. And what if others decided to do the same thing in their circles? How much of the world could be affected? I'll close with a famous quote recently mentioned in another DEV article.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

  • Leo Tolstoy

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