"The reality is that despite my desire and my gifts, I am limited in reach and resources," Elizabeth Iwunwa writes. Pixabay

Speaking Out: Change the world by changing me

By  Speaking Out, Elizabeth Iwunwa
  • April 27, 2018

When the afternoon of May 12 comes, I will walk across the stage, robed in a graduation gown, ready to take on the world. 

That day will signal the beginning of a new phase of my life. This phase will require me to take the lessons of the past four years of university and put them into practice. 

The decision to study at UPEI was not one I made. My Nigerian parents were seeking a quiet and conducive university with experiential learning opportunities and found Canada and UPEI to be the right fit. They were advocates for new experiences, especially those that took us, their children, away from comfort and familiarity. This was an important aspect of my decision to study abroad.

A post-secondary education has opened my eyes to the many hurts and imperfections of the world. It has ignited a burning desire in my heart to change the world. 

Yet, I sometimes catch myself wondering how exactly I am going to bring about this change. I am just one out of several million others who will graduate this year. How much difference could I possibly make? I am yet another grain of sand on the seashore, different but still similar in kind to those who surround me.

The reality is that despite my desire and my gifts, I am limited in reach and resources. I lack the skills and the ability to help everyone everywhere. And that is for a reason. I am limited. Finite. Bound by contingencies. 

Then I remember that although I may not be able to change the world, I can change my world. My family and my friends are my world. They are the ones God has entrusted my heart to. I am the one God has entrusted them to. 

Yet, I realize that I cannot change others without first changing myself. Jesus says to first take out the log in my eye before I can see clearly and take out the speck in my brother’s eye. 

As it turns out, I am at the centre of a network and all that I do and fail to do impacts those around me. I am responsible primarily for myself and will effect change around me the way a pebble cast into the sea does. 

To change myself, I must look to that which is bigger than me. I must look away from myself and look towards the transcendent. 

I must orient myself to the Author of Truth. I must strive every day to be better than I was the day before. I must have the humility to admit what I do not know. 

I must have the wisdom to acknowledge that when I point a finger at the world, four fingers point back at me. I must see where and how I cause suffering to those around me and seek to make amends. I must seek only that which is true and lovely and good. 

So, I may not be able to change the world, but I can change myself. And that is enough. 

(Iwunwa, 20, is a fourth-year psychology student at University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.)

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