Be the first domino
  • Be the first domino
  • Victoriana´s daughter Erica at her graduation last december

Two years ago on New Year´s Eve, I was driving back home from my mother’s house when I saw Victoriana, a woman of African descent carrying a baby in her arms while she was begging alms. I was in the first car stopped at the traffic light and she asked me for money. She didn’t look at me but her child did, as if waiting for something. I was tired and thought about starting my car when the light changed to green. But something deep inside of me led me to ask her: “Why are you here so early? Why do you come to beg with such an small child?" She said: "Because I am hungry and I can’t leave him alone back home." I had in my car my son’s Christmas present from his grandmother and I took it and gave it to Victoriana’s child. His eyes shone like the brightest star and I received a strong, energetic spark which I feel again right now, with just the memory.

I have been told since my childhood: "Live to change the world." "Think to change it, my love!” my dad would say. But I never knew how, since the world seemed to me like a huge bowl, inmmense, beyond my thoughts. As a child, I lived playing and his words stayed deep in my mind like a tattoo on my soul. However, today his words come back to remind me of what I was taught, what I should do. Compassion is an important principle in my life and I feel it deep inside when I see injustice at any level. That powerful tattoo wants to get out of my body. Sometimes it comes out as thoughts but mostly it comes as writings and mainly as actions. I sign most of my letters with the phrase "DO SOMETHING, anything, but do it!". We might think we can not change the world. But WE CAN. If everyone cares, it could be global warming, endangered species, vulnerable communities, the drug trade, poverty, gender violence, rape, inequality, indigence, or war. ANYTHING CAN BE CHANGED.

We blame others for our issues but we are responsible. If we could consume less, oil spills would not ocurr so often as this industry would not be so huge. How many gadgets have you bought that you don’t need? If we could care for our planet first in our home, disposing our litter properly, we wouldn´t be seeing the Pacific Trash Vortex as the gyre of marine litter. Are your trash cans properly dispposed or is it your own Trash Vortex?(Even the digital trash icon in your computer? We cant see Cyberspace Trash Vortex yet, but we will.)

If we could think globally while living locally, we would know we have to do our part. However we don’t do it and yet hope not to read bad news everywhere. Or even worse, we remain blind to everything wanting not to see reality in our own and personal contributions to war, drug trade, global warming, oil spills, endangered species, you name it. We all are responsible if the climate is changing and floods are happening everywhere while water is changing its condition. Water is not going outside our planet, it can´t. It is moving, it is going from the top of our iced mountains to seas, from clean to dirty, from cloud forest to deserts, our planet is melting in many ways and we blame others, always.

How can we expect to read good news on everything,if we are not doing our part? News is also changing from place to place, from Egypt to Mexico and today as technology is a huge industry from Wikileaks and Facebook to cyberspace. The core is always the same as we don’t want to change our habits, just look around you, outside your window, stop reading this article, stop caring just for yourself and do something for all, shake the world, shake your life, shake yourself and wake up to life. "Live to change the world". Do something, whatever it is but do it, We will feel it. Be yourself the good news you want to read about, be the first domino. Change yourself.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future 2011 Assignment: Op-Eds.

Comment on this Post


I Love your strength Martha, "Do something, whatever it is but do it". Being resposible in all areas of our lives. You are grooming millions to be just that, I believe there are listening ears and open eyes for this message. Together we will change this world for better.

Thank you.


I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

I love the phrase, “Be the first domino”

We focus too much on changing the world, but it’s more about changing the world around us, i.e. our own lives.

Refreshing piece, Martha !

Wow I am moved coz of your inspiring op-ed piece. It is so powerful! I also love the sentence "Live to change the world". Do something, whatever it is but do it, We will feel it. Be yourself the good news you want to read about, be the first domino. Change yourself. Inspiring....Inspiring one that we should do to change our oneself if we wish to change the world.

Thanks so much for writing this wonderful piece!



Regards, Sarvina from Cambodia VOF 2011 Correspondent

I always love the way you write, Martha. It's so inspiring! :) And I do love this statement: "How many gadgets have you bought that you don’t need?" That's so true! :)


I love your call to action Martha! It is a message that will always be timely "take responsibility". We, as a population, do so little of that, and there is so much blaming in every culture. If people were educated to see the whole, instead of just themselves, it would be a great start!



"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver

What a wonderful title! You really found a fantastic way to capture how it feels to rise up against cultures of blame and apathy to do what you know is right.

Thank you for giving us this amazing glimpse into your family's passion and how it has driven you to act! And thank you for reminding us that there is ALWAYS something WE can be doing to improve the world around us.

Imagine how much we could accomplish if we focused our energy on action rather than complaining!!

Thank you Martha!