by Elsa Lilja Gunnarsdottir
My experiences at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum have made me believe in the power of ideas. If we focus on making one small step, and we do so unselfishly, we have the power to change the course of history. It is that simple.
The incredible speakers at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum have proved that I can say this in all sincerety, and I ask you to believe that this statement is not naive. We need to reinforce the belief in small ideas. Muhammad Yunus has proved that a small idea can in fact change the world.
I have a small idea. My idea is to change the opinions and attitudes of just a few people. I want to convince people to believe that personal gain shouldnt always be the most important motivator. Benefits for the greater good can actually benefit you in the end.
For instance, you will probably not be happy about paying taxes, but if those taxes can be used to provide affordable and accessible health care, it could save your life in the end. By changing the ideas of just a few people, I believe that they can inspire other people and thus create a chain of change. Anyone can do it. Very few believed in Muhammad Yunus’s idea, claiming that it would never work, that the system doesn’t work that way. He proved them wrong.
If people are willing to give up their stubbornness and unwillingness to change just for a moment, if only to listen to other ideas, it could inspire them to regain optimism. I believe change is impossible without optimism. If you say things will never change, then they never will for you. That is also just as simple. I ask you to believe the fact that you have the power to alter your life.
William Ernest Henley put this beautifully in his poem Invictus;
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul
You hold the power to change your destiny, and you have the control to change your ways. It is a small but powerful idea; believing that change lies not in an uncontrollable faith or in the hands of government officials, every single one of us has the ability to influence and to create change. All it takes is an idea and the belief in that idea.
Believe me, I am incredibly stubborn, yet many of my ideas about the world have changed because I have listened.
So I say, listen to the people around you,you may not agree with them at first and I realize it is very difficult to compromise your views for some one elses. Our minds arent as easily molded as when we were kids, and it will just become increasingly more difficult. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing; it has made us more critical and perhaps given us better judgment, but it has also made us less open to new or other opinions.
Muhammad Yunus mentioned this in his Nobel Peace Prize Forum speech; he said that it’s incredibly difficult to change the minds of adults because they have already made up their mind, and they are so committed to their ideas of right and wrong, it is like they lose some of their optimism and close their ears to change. I would encourage adults to listen to those younger than you, it might seem like they know less, but their ears are more open and they might even tell you something you dont know (or that youve never been open to).
My small idea is, Be susceptible to change. If you believe your fate is locked in its current position, you are wrong. Anyone can change the world, the speakers at the Forum have proven that. But nothing can ever change unless you are willing to accept the idea that it can. We live in an unpredictable world. If people would never have been open to change and optimistic to new ideas, we would still be rubbing two sticks together to make fire.