The legend of the hummingbird

Once upon a time, a huge fire blazed through  the forest. All the animas were terrified, running   around in a panic and watching helplessly as the disaster unfolded.  Only the hummingbird was keeping himself busy,  flying to and fro and  collecting  drops of water from the river to throw them onto the fire. 

After a while, the armadillo, annoyed by this flitting,  shouted : “Hummingbird, you’re crazy! It will take more than a  few measly drops to  extinguish this fire!”

The hummingbird answered: “I know, but I am doing my part”.

This Amerindian legend teaches  us that even the smallest gesture matters. Often, it is all  that we can do. Many people feel that their contribution will make no difference.  So why should we bother to recycle,  eat less meat,  drive less,  conserve water or electricity?  But by the same token - why smile more, why be kinder, more forgiving, more compassionate, more generous with people whom we don’t even know?

Gandhi is quoted as saying: “Be the change you want to see”. This may not instantly revolutionise the world, but if we all take steps  to nurture  happiness in ourselves  and others,  if we hone  the skills necessary to treat ourselves and others kindly,  there can only be a shift for the better. The Dalai Lama says: “Happiness is not ready made. It comes from your own actions”.

Of course, true happiness  cannot be selfish. Only when we recognise our common humanity and the fact that every human being wishes to be happy, healthy and safe, can we relate to each other authentically and make the world a better place.

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