You Can Make a Difference

By: Abel Merawi

MLKMarch 18, 2020 ( -- The amount of information a person accesses presently is unimaginably high as compared to previous times. The amount of data you get from the internet and from the news can be overwhelming. If you are a sort of person who actually cares, you are bound to pay attention to the reality of the world, and it is not always pretty. You hear about wars breaking out in different parts of the world, claiming the lives of millions. You observe the deceit and false promises of politicians. You witness the horror brought by religious, ideological or ethnic conflicts. Even more, you see the terrible crimes committed by individuals that make you question your nature. To make matters worse, you examine the poisonous solutions brought by the educated which lead to a system of oppression. All of these things may make you ask in despair, ‘what can a single person do!?’

The sense of hopelessness the individual feels upon comprehending the world is understandable, but it is not the proper response. It is necessary to know and accept that you can make a difference. I am not to use the language of public speakers and say that you are unique and special. Yet, I boldly say you have the unique and special power of reason that can make a difference. If you choose to abandon your mind and succumb to whims and emotions, you will not make a difference – neither to your own life or to the world. However, if you make the demanding choice of being rational, you will definitely make a difference to yourself and others.

Civilization is the outcome of rational and creative beings, and the acceptance of brave societies of such individuals. The gradual acceptance of new ideas by the society makes a great contribution in creating culture. The evil we currently witness in the world in not caused by nature, but by individuals who misinterpreted the world and gained popular acceptance. I don’t think Karl Marx aimed at bringing all the evil brought about by socialism and communism, he just viewed the world from the wrong vantage point and millions chose to accept him. Good ideas also originate in individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, who showed in their action what a peaceful struggle means. Thus, you can make a difference either for good or bad; what matters is your idea or philosophical foundation.

If you embark on a mission to change the world by making political and social problems your initial points, don’t be surprised when you fail. The origin or cause of problems is an idea; politics and culture are the effects or manifestations. Ayn Rand, in her book ‘Philosophy: Who Needs It’ states, “The battle is primarily intellectual (philosophical), not political. Politics is the last consequence, the practical implementation, of the fundamental (metaphysical-epistemological-ethical) ideas that dominate a given nation’s culture.” Accordingly, you can change the political and social problems by changing the ideology that fuels them. This is more difficult than becoming a politician or a revolutionary because it first and foremost requires changing yourself.

Anyone who wants to make a difference must first stand on a firm philosophical basis. This can be achieved only by a rational person who lives the truth. Francis Bacon said, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” If you desire to live the truth, you have to obey nature by acting according to natural laws. Just as you cannot act against gravity, you cannot force the wrong ideas that are contrary to nature. Thus, the test of truth is nature or existence. By acting according to nature, which you can access through reason, you can command nature or your life. So begin by avoiding contradictions in your own life until you arrive on the path that provides you with the correct ideas about life. Mahatma Gandhi says that we should be part of the change that we want to see in the world. So the change should begin with your life, and then you will be able to make a difference for others too.

In most cases, people who want to bring about change begin by seeking a platform that reaches a national audience. In order to get a big crowd, they end up starting or joining a party or other movements. This is where promising individuals get trapped in the system and become immobile. An idea is to be communicated not preached. Your daily life presents you with plenty of opportunities to communicate the truth. You only have to live the truth in every action and interaction. The dialogue with family, friends, colleagues, and others is an ever-present opportunity to speak the truth. Most importantly, your aim should not be gaining followers, but individuals who are ready to engage in a mental dialogue. As Ayn Rand claims, “A philosophical battle is a battle for men’s minds, not an attempt to enlist blind followers.” It is the aim of politicians and opinion leaders to have blind followers, but a genuine intellectual desires autonomous minds that can walk together for the same goal.  

People can work together to accomplish a specific goal, but it is unlikely to do so in becoming a member of a party or group that lacks an identifiable goal. Sadly, most intellectuals join political parties and end up becoming devout members who execute anything the party demands even against their own beliefs. It is not to say that every group suppresses the members; it only means that you should join with others when the objective is clear and specific instead of vague and general. It is important to remember that your goal is bringing mental change that can serve to make everything else change.

For so long every one of us has felt like we are powerless in the face of society and politics. In reality, you have the ability to make a difference if you know where to start. It is ideas that make the world, and politics and culture are its reflections. Ayn Rand shows the power of ideas by stating, “But the factor that underlies and determines every aspect of human life is philosophy; teach men the right philosophy—and their own minds will do the rest. Philosophy is the wholesaler in human affairs.” You only have to live the truth because you have the greatest allies on your side; they are reason and reality.  


Abel Merawi is Addis Ababa-based contributor for He can be reached through this form.

Other articles by Abel Merawi:

Rule of Law for a Free Society


The Origins of Law

Determinants of Market Value: Part II

Determinants of Market Value: Part I

Your life Matters Too

Manifestations of Artistic Expression

Achievements vs Natural Accidents

The Grip of Sacrifice

Injustice is Never Justifiable

Education Demands of the Future

Job Security, Life and the Unpredictable Future

The Shift From Racism to Culturism

Sacrificing Meaning for Power?

Culture and Market Forces

Intersubjective Reality

Seeking Cosmic Justice

National Myths: Makers and Destroyers of Nations

Are We Truly Free?

Maturity: The Prerequisite to Freedom and Democracy

Loyalty to Truth, Not to Group

The Value of Work

The Flaws with Ethiopian Political System

Intellectuals and the People

Where Are Our Pathfinders?

The Allegory of the Cave and Its Lessons to Leaders

The Truth Behind Humanity

The Seven Virtues

The Seven Deadly Sins

What is the right thing to do?

Building National Identity

Adey Abeba and the Spirit of Change

Mob Violence

Living the Truth as a Human Being

Hubris - The Tragedy of Not Learning from Others

The Era of Group Mentality: Us vs Them

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