And perhaps that had something to do with me signing up for journalism school. I thought if somehow I could make a difference and shine some sort of light, perhaps the darkness would recede just an inch.
But lately I've realised I don't care as much anymore. There's a hardness that's crept into me like an illness that you pick up without knowing it. When I walk down the street it easier now to ignore those begging for change. I just look the other way or simply tell them I've got nothing for them.
And don't get me wrong. I didn't wake up one morning and decide to cut my heart out and throw it away. It crept up on me. Slowly, without me noticing I turned hard.
But the other day it hit me. I suddenly realised what I'd become. And tracing back, I recognised it for what it was.
Have you ever watched the news or looked at the world around you and simply thought what can I do? This place is such a mess, what could really make a difference. You certainly wouldn't be the only one.
We live in a measured culture where input is always measured against the outcome. Is it worth the investment, and what sort of return will I likely get? It's a world governed by the principle of effectiveness, aimed at tackling problems and finding solutions. It ought to be said however, that this way of thinking isn't all bad. It certainly achieves results and gets stuff done.
But the trouble is, handing out toasties on the streets isn't necessarily going to fix Auckland's homeless problem. Nor is flicking someone your spare change going to get them a job.
And I realised I'd slowly let this attitude invade my thinking. Instead of compassion there was analysis, while empathy had been replaced by logic.
And worse yet I began to look on at amazing ministries that were doing there bit to chip away at the darkness with increased cynicism.
A wakeup call
The other day, however, a friend of mine jolted me out of my calculated stupor.
He told me how a bunch of guys from the local church had visited his apartment block, handing out food parcels. At the time he had just gotten out of prison and was still finding his feet. He told me how he was completely out of food that week and wasn't sure how he was going to get by for the coming week. That one food parcel not only feed him, but it got him intrigued enough to come to church. It was the lifeline he needed to draw him in to a community where he found support, purpose and ultimately hope.
Mother Theresa once said "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." Early on in her ministry, plenty of people questioned Mother Theresa's vision. Simply put, she set out to care for a few dying peasants in a slum city of millions. And yet her actions and love drew the attention of the entire world as she touched the lives of thousands and inspired millions more.
So where does that leave me? To be honest, I stand humbled. I've realised life isn't so much about the big picture but the little pieces that make it up. These are the things we can change. These are the things that count. Because you never know, what ripples you might leave behind.
Struan Purdie is a 24-year-old kiwi lad who loves to make his own fun and is always up for an adventure. He's currently juggling an honors research documentary and a part time role at New Zealand's National Broadcaster, while stealing a few sneaky surf trips to keep him sane.
Struan Purdie's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/struan-purdie.html