Today is Earth Day which seems like a good time to talk about one of the rules I try to live by. Robert Baden-Powell said,
Leave this world a little better than you found it.
I learned this tenet as a young Girl Scout and have carried it with me all my life. I say it to my own children and to the children in my classroom. Well, technically I tell them to “leave the place better than you found it”. I had to look it up to find out who said it first. I actually thought it was the Girl Scout motto. It’s not. (The motto is “Be prepared.” Also good words to live by but that’s a whole other post). It is definitely Scout related though, as Baden-Powell was the founder of the Boy Scouts (which then inspired Juliette Gordon Low to create the Girl Scouts).
I often use the phrase to indicate my desire to clean an area I have been using before I leave. Pick up any trash (even if I didn’t create the trash to begin with), clean up any messes, etc. But really these words work in almost any situation. It doesn’t have to be just about picking up a little extra trash. Howard Zinn said,
Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
If we all do whatever little thing we can to improve the world around us, the cumulative effect will be considerable. It is so easy to feel insignificant in this vast world, like anything we may do is too small to matter. The problems are insurmountable. We want to crawl back into bed, binge-watching our latest TV obsession, pretending the problems don’t exist. We mustn’t give up. Do whatever you can, whenever you can, wherever you are. Live by example so that others may follow. The more of us trying to leave the world better than we found it, the better the world will be.