… The Core: the part where Serge says he’s only saving three people.
In The Core, the heroes are tasked with tunneling into the core of the earth – of course we can! – to convince the core to begin spinning again. This will guarantee that life on earth survives. It’s very important because of a) the whole life-on-earth-surviving thing and b)apparently it’s our own experiments-gone-awry fault that the core stopped, so if the earth dies, the afterlife party would be totally awkward.
So the heroes delve into the earth with an experimental drilling chamber, going into the bowels of the earth with very little plan and even less hope. They’re claustrophobic, panicking, and anxious – not the best frame of mind to engage in teamwork. They’re overwhelmed by the importance of their mission – saving the whole world – and things start falling apart.
But Serge has a picture of his family – his wife and children – and he tells the others that he’s not there to save the world. Saving the world is too huge a concept, too monumental an undertaking to hope for any success. He’s just trying to save those three people in the picture. That much he knows he can do.
We all want the world to be a better place – agreeing on what “better” is might really be the only problem – but we let ourselves get bogged down in the daunting task of changing minds and economies and cultures and landscapes … all over the world. All over the world. We start thinking that our work only has meaning if it changes the world, if it helps all mankind, if it manages somehow to better the existence of over seven billion people. We take on this absolutely enormous task, and then we wonder why we’re stressed out, unfulfilled, harried and anxious. We take on this probably impossible mission, and we spend our lives feeling like failures.
But maybe “charity starts at home” refers to more than just setting priorities; maybe it refers to that perspective of saving just three people – formatting our lives around what really matters to us, and around the people who really matter to us. It’s very important to “reach for the stars” – to follow our dreams no matter what – but we aren’t really reaching the stars by pretending to be superheroes. We’re just setting ourselves up, and keeping our gifts from the world because we think they’re not “big” enough.
If you really want to save the world, stop trying to save the world. Save the three (or however many) people who matter most to you (including yourself). Make the world better for them, in every way that you can. If you do that, then your life will never have been wasted. And if everyone does that, then the world will be saved.
It worked for Serge.