The following advice, given by the deceitful Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood in C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, describes a common malady afflicting many of us today: "Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient's soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary."
This idea of benevolence being directed far away and malice being directed close by extends beyond benevolence and malice. When I think of being charitable I often think of donating to some large charity that feeds hungry people in other countries. While that’s incredibly important, I sometimes forget that there are people in my own neighborhood, perhaps even in my own family, who may be starving physically or emotionally. Likewise, I have often thought that to become a great business person or a great friend I need to do something really amazing. When people ask me what I do I want to say I build schools in some third world country or something, as if that’s what it means to be amazing.
Doing good things means you do good things, no matter where it is that you do them. Doing something good starts with your innermost circle of influence. It starts with your family and friends, and then on outward. If you never get to feed thousands and thousands of people? It doesn’t mean you didn’t save the world for someone.