I can’t change the world

As a Messenger of Peace for the UN, and UNESCO special counselor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences”, how do envision your role in today’s world? (Katya Yulianka, Russia)

I’ve always been very skeptical about people that say: “I want to save the world, help others…”

This is because to save the “world” is too abstract. What is possible – and the most difficult task – is to first look at oneself and try to identify what’s wrong.

Before searching for the other, one has to find oneself.

I can’t change the world, I can’t change my country, I can’t change my city, I can’t even change my neighborhood… what I can change is my street.
In 1996, when I started receiving significant royalties from my books, I went to a favela close to my home – in Rio favelas are in the center of the city – and met a group of people that were taking care of children.

I created The Paulo Coelho Institute. Since then we have been cooperating, and now we take care of 430 children (besides other projects, like supporting patients in mental hospitals, families that live below the poverty line, etc.)

I still believe that most of the real changes are made in a small scale.

Being one of the twelve Messengers of Peace is a reminder that peace, as well as justice, has a natural authority that imposes itself. The tribune of the UN gives me the opportunity to speak out about injustices and use my influence in the political arena.

The challenge lies in the fact that UN can’t do this work alone.
We are all Messengers of Peace. Let’s start working.

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  1. Leila says:

    Paolo, tus pensamientos hacen cambios, mueven a una pregunta obligada, “se aplica a mi (el personaje), me paresco o puedo hacer yo lo mismo, y todos generan un cambio positivo, no uno justificador, Cambio de crecimiento, deseo de buscar y aprender lo que tu ha aprendido! Gracias, yo cambie, bello!

  2. Sheathe Global foundation says:

    Dear Sir this is in line with your dreams.This Sheath Global Foundation’s Article of Faith.(read).
    Inspired by the facts that leadership and followership are fundamental ingredients for building a better society of today and the future, the “Sheathe Global Foundation aims at filtering sound ideas from leaders across all endeavours and showcasing them through the right media.
    Sheathe Global foundation believes in the preservation of thoughts and better administration to the society where events are daily unfolding themselves with little to be remembered.
    We believe in partnering with leaders across lines; political entrepreneurs, forces and Para-military, traditional, academia and pressures groups etc; for reviving and extolling virtues which the society overlooks and drift for vices.
    Sheathe Global wants to consistently build up a social encyclopedia of reference with the appropriate media and institutions where the fabrics of our society can always be reshaped using the standard tools of dialogue and personnel than the weapons of annihilation.
    We aim at creating a golden forum using the strategy of symposiums, interviews ,jokes ,entertainment, education and all available media as reconciliatory tools against warring factions, youths and personalities whose cold war are negatively setting a wrong wheel and catastrophe in motion for our generation.
    Finally, sheathe Global hopes to be a rallying point for both young and old to learn from each other believing that the ancient things, the land marks and the barbaric histories could be made better and values of trust, respect and preservation of live be extolled amongst us.
    President/Founder “Sheathe Global Foundation”
    Douglas Uma ukaha.

  3. anne says:

    this is a nice story. We can not change our world if we don’t change on ourselves.

  4. Adam Hadrys says:

    I take very strong offense in the common phrase “You can´t change the world. I love to change myself while I stick to and manifest my ideals and: I can change the world. Big picture and transformation is a part of life.

  5. Marie-Christine says:

    L’adresse de L’instituto Paulo Coelho m’a fait sourire
    rua Saint Roman.:)
    ah si les rues pouvaient parler, elles en raconteraient des histoires …

  6. Sheela nandini says:

    Claudia,that’s wonderful! Thanks for taking time out to post the lyrics too.Beautiful words,aren’t they?

    I can see your photo in my mind’s eye:))Wish there was some way you could share it on the blog for all of us…

    Big Hugs,my dear friend!


    1. CG says:

      It was a pleasure to me.
      Now you got me dancing the inside tango. About how to share things like that. And if they (me) are good enough. One of my crucial questions.


    2. Sheela nandini says:

      Uffffffffffff! They call it “Lila”

      Not wearing my reading glasses-that’s what!

    3. CG says:

      Iknow the colour.

  7. Sheela nandini says:

    Lifeline,heartline…heh heh

    Beatles song: The Long and Winding Road.


    Don’t understand everything about the context as they sang it. I was thinking of my pilgrimage and the road I took-up there in the mountains.And Lost love?I don’t know.

    Now,doors are interesting:)Exit,entry,locked,half-open,barred etc.

    P.S.Lubecker Marzipan and Scharzwalder Kirschtorte images on Google were such a treat! A Big thank you:)

    1. CG says:

      Lifeline,heartline,pilgrimage…..through our lives.
      And doors to go through.
      I’d like you to see my desktop backgroud….
      It’s a photo I took 2-3 years ago.
      A gate, half opened, big trees, light and shadows.
      And it’s left to the viewer, if it’s an entrance or a way out.

      I checked out the lyrics of “The Long and Winding Road”:

      The long and winding road
      That leads to your door
      Will never disappear
      I’ve seen that road before
      It always leads me here
      Lead me to your door.

      The wild and windy night
      That the rain washed away
      Has left a pool of tears
      Crying for the day.
      Why leave me standing here?
      Let me know the way.

      Many times I’ve been alone
      And many times I’ve cried,
      Anyway you’ll never know
      The many ways I’ve tried.

      And still they lead me back
      To the long, winding road
      You left me standing here
      A long, long time ago
      Don’t leave me waiting here
      Lead me to your door.

      But still they lead me back
      To the long winding road
      You left me standing here
      A long, long time ago
      Don’t keep me waiting here
      Lead me to your door.

      Hugs to you Dear

    2. Sheela nandini says:

      Claudia,that’s wonderful! Thanks for taking time out to post the lyrics.Beautiful words.

      I can see your photo in my mind’s eye:))Wish there was some way you could share it here on the blog for all of us…

      Big Hugs,my dear friend!


  8. Guadalupe SM says:

    you can`t change the world.. but you changed mine
    your books help me to fight for my dreams .. and don`t let them die.. believe in them… you have given me the confide to belive in myself to become true my dreams .. my personal leyend . thanks Mr coelho.

  9. Sheela nandini says:

    Glad you like my kind of humor;) Oh yes,God does have a great sense of humor,Claudia.I see that now:))) I believe He threw you a Lifeline just in time…

    And you’ll never believe this,but I discovered just this morning that The Beatles sang a song by that name!!I know of that line as a phrase and title of an article in an old copy of TIME mag.The lyrics are so significant!!!Remember we were talking of God getting the door for us? Life comes full circle on Paulo’s blog.

    I wish you would make time and go-I love the sea/ocean too and even mountains.Sadly we are landlocked here where I live and I need to go walking but not doing that:(

    Thank you for sharing all this information-LOVE these names!Will check out on Google to see what marzipan looks like:)

    I believe you will like the movie-so happy to know we are all Depp fans here;)Now that’s on my must-see list.So help me,God:)


    1. CG says:

      A lifeline … interesting aspekt.
      But fakt is: He does everything in time (as you already mentioned). Just perfekt.

      The Beatles song you are referring to is called `Lifeline´? I don’t know it and even I couldn’t find it on Google. (Wanted to look up the lyrics, but didn’t have much time today).

      I too love this: “Life comes full circle on Paulo’s blog.”
      Sure this is one of HIS doors.

      Love and hugs

  10. Maria says:

    Mensageiro da Paz!

    Uma gota de cada um mata a sede de mtas pessoas.
    Por mais q o mundo tenha mtas injustií§as e maldades, acredito q estamos mtoi melhor q há anos atrás.
    Mtas pessoas já descobriram que somos todos guerreiros da luz e estí£o usando as espadas.

    Obrigada querido, por vc ser um dos mensageiros da paz, ajudando a acordar outros guerreiros

    Tm uma historia bem bonita sobre o que podemos fazer, deixo o link pra vc (ñ achei o autor)


    Deus te ilumine

  11. Aleks says:

    я не могу изменить мир.а нужно это делать нам кажется что он погибает Бог нас оставил…забыл несчастную землю и на ней живущих а это не так это мы потерялись где то по дороге жизнь крутит и крутит свое колесо все идет по плану Всевышнего человек делает свою работу по капельке наполняет свое сердце любовью должен наполнить его до полна до краев и тогда исправится вот когда дело Бога будет завершено любовь многолика но все эти лица должны увидеть свое отражение в море любви.и вот тогда мы исправим себя а исправив себя мы начнем исправлят этот мир .в дорогу.. в вечный поиск…а может она ждет тебя..там..за горизонтем

  12. Zuleima says:

    Loa cambios son dificiles para todos , pero en cuanto a la paz, a esa anhelada paz, que todos deseamos y hacemos tan poco o nada para obtenerla, pienso que lo principal es sentirla para poder manifestarla…!!!!

    1. MARIA says:

      El mundo en sí­, es abstracto…y con eso de no puedo ; lo hace más difí­cil para alguien como yo que vivo de de un salario escaso, que llevo en mí­ las palabras de mi madre que”para todo da Dios”-Dice ella-aunque a mí­, me falte el dinero muchas veces;trato de ayudar a otros y por mi escases de recursos sé que cualquier ayuda monetaria y apoyo a otros sirve…
      Usted ha hecho la diferencia entre tener y hacerse el desentendido…y prefirió ayudar ….eso vale PAULO…vale más que la portada barata de una revista de papel couché hálagandolo por su contribución a la sociedad, muchos dan lo que les sobra…y no lo que tienen…NADIE PUEDE CAMBIAR EL MUNDO, PERO PODEMOS HACER LA DIFERENCIA…

  13. kamy says:

    “I can’t change the world, I can’t change my country, I can’t change my city, I can’t even change my neighborhood… ”

    I don’t seek to change the world but just change someone’s life.
    You can’t imagine how hurtful it is when you are capable to make a change in other people’s lives and fail to to it to the closest people to you. I do have persuasive skills; people listen to my advice but I fail with that one person who is like my daughter. Whatever I do or say I just can’t save her from herself; there’s nothing she’s looking forward to in life; no goal, no aim, no dream; nothing.
    I recently said spontaneously a few words (six words)to a student of mine who was completely devastated because of his parents’ treatment to him; he broke his laptop and physically hurt himself, I convinced him to sit for the exam and never quit his studies. He kept his promise and he is doing his best at school. This is only one example but I feel bad and not proud of myself. Failing to help the very close person to me makes me feel like an IMPOSTER of some sort and this is impacting on everything positive I’m trying to do in my life; that tastes like poison.

    ‘Change’ is so difficult for some people I’m afraid.

    1. Marjan says:

      Please don’t feel that way….just don’t give up….she will see it one day and believe me it would not be too late, just be there for her. Don’t give up on her or on you. God bless you and your daughter

    2. zilbert says:

      yes, the reward is too soon, its a clear messages.. as it says when the grows dim and same no answers, that!s the time HE carries you believe it!

    3. kamy says:

      “….it wouldn’t be late” I believe so.
      Thanks for your reply.

  14. Jessica G says:

    We all do what we can I hope :-)

    Love Jessica

  15. Sheela nandini says:

    Claudia dearest,
    I hope you also read some of my naughty comments @Poet Daniel’s-all in jest of course;)Daniel is such a sweet person and I miss him here.
    That’s really awesome-all what you say and to think it started with “Stealing Chocolate”!
    The Long and Winding Road:Daniel to Depp via chocolate<3

    And I am hoping that just for my sake you are somewhere close to the Black Forest area in Germany;)We have the Indian version of the cake but I saw how they make the real thing on telly one time and still dream about what that must taste like:)))
    Thank YOU,dear,for sharing how all this began for you-us-one never really knows-OMG!
    About following the heart-I keep coming up against obstacles too,all the time, and especially with men!So it's heartening to know that three men have helped us bond -over chocolate-and one of them is a Magus;):D

    Btw,I found out a while ago that Don Juan de Marco(what I saw of it) was censored-that's Indian television for you:(
    Time to rent that CD/VD;)

    Bless you,Claudia!

    Love and hugs,

    1. CG says:

      Dear Sheela,

      don’t change your kind of humor. Everything is ok.;)
      And I too missed Daniels comments on the blog.
      It’s true: three men brought us together. God must be a humouros one to choose this way.
      But: I’m living in the very north of Germany – near Hamburg and the Baltic Sea. And I must confess that I love the sea. I’d like to go to the shore every day and have a walk. I don’t miss the mountains AND we have “Lübecker Marzipan” here. A fantastic sweet. Just as delicate as the “Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte”.

      Unfortunately until now I didn’t see the movie you mentioned. Perhaps I can manage via my daughter and her friend (even Depp-Fans).

      Some big hugs,

  16. margherita says:

    Caro Paulo,
    grazie per quello che fai e grazie per la tua testimonianza.
    Tu sei molto conosciuto e per te è un poco pií¹ facile fare qualcosa per cambiare il mondo, perchè il mondo, checchè tu ne dica, si puí² cambiare. Facendo piccole cose, magari, cercando appena di intervenire su quanto ci sta attorno.
    Oppure anche sognando un po’ pií¹ in grande.
    Anch’io cerco di fare qualcosa per dare una piccolissima sfumatura azzurra in pií¹ al cielo, ma il cielo è grande, lenuvole nere sono tante ed il mio pennello è molto piccolo, quasi quanto un cucchiaio di bambino ingenuo che vuole svuotare il mare.
    Se tutti gli esseri viventi perí² usassero quel loro cucchiaio o quel loro pennello, oppure i doni che hanno ricevuto e che tengono a marcire nei cassetti o gií¹ in cantina, sono sicura che senza tanti sforzi il mondo cambierebbe immediatamente.
    Intanto io scrivo e gií  dire cií² che penso su questo blog, forse, potrí  cambiare di una virgola il mondo… Chissí , ci spero tanto.
    Saluti, Paulo.

  17. arun says:

    I know that I can’t change the world but I can spread a smile over the sad face, I can create a chain of happiness in thbe world, I can go beyond the boundary to tell my neighbors that I love them and I care for them, I can take my child to park and play with him to see him happy as I know he is waiting too long for this, I can paint a scene for him describing him as sun/ light of my life, I can go and walk in park, wishing good luck and smily hi to all I see them, I can’t change the world but I can become a part of greater smile/ happiness and aura of positive energy…

  18. Manish says:

    inhaling Mr. Paulo ‘s teaching !!
    thank you sir !!
    keep up !!

  19. Marie-Christine says:

    “l’ambiance de votre corps,l’etat de vos pensees dependent de votre art de respirer, de la qualite de votre souffle.”
    Genevieve Manent
    Une facon de changer le monde- aprrendre a respirer –

  20. Tom says:

    Hello.Wszystko jest już zapisane.

    1. Tom says:

      Bez żartu.

  21. Ken Crane says:

    Thank you Paulo,

    I think I understand what you are saying.
    If we can’t change ourself, we can’t even change the world.


  22. maryam says:

    hello sir coelho
    im maryam and i from iran. i love so much your books. and i read all of them. in fact i living your books. your books very helped to me in life.
    this article so very nice and practical for me such as all your books. and i toyally agree with you beacuse we cant change world and we can change only us life.
    tank you so much for every thing.
    regards sir coelho.

  23. P. Antunes says:

    If I could reach the stars I’d pull one down for you
    Shine it on my heart so you could see the truth
    That this love I have inside is everything it seems
    But for now I find it’s only in my dreams

    That I can change the world
    I would be the sunlight in your universe
    You will think my love was really something good
    Baby if I could change the world

    If I could be king even for a day
    I’d take you as my queen I’d have it no other way
    And our love will rule in this kingdom we have made
    Till then I’d be a fool wishin’ for the day

    That I can change the world
    I would be the sunlight in your universe
    You will think my love was really something good
    Baby if I could change the world
    Baby if I could change the world

    That I can change the world
    I would be the sunlight in your universe
    You will think my love was really something good
    Baby if I could change the world
    Baby if I could change the world
    Baby if I could change the world

    Eric Clapton – “change the world”

  24. Sheathe Global foundation says:

    Dear sir,
    Your write ups are impacting on your readers.you need to physically come and begin to donate something to people.What you have doneted to the world is your wisdom that will live even afetr you are gone.
    keep up the good work sir.God bless.
    Let me aslo refer you to my vision on the page “Sheathe Global Foundation”, may be there could be some wisdom i will borrow from you.
    Sheathe Global Foundation.
    Mr Ukaha Douglas

    1. Sheathe Global foundation says:

      Dear sir,
      Your write ups are impacting on your readers.you need not to physically come and begin to donate something to people.What you have doneted to the world is your wisdom that will live even after you are gone.
      keep up the good work sir.God bless.
      Let me also refer you to my vision on the page “Sheathe Global Foundation”, may be there could be some wisdom i will borrow from you.
      Sheathe Global Foundation.
      Mr Ukaha Douglas

  25. krunal gandhi says:

    hello sir
    it was good one .i always think about changing world. try to make people free from grievs and shadow of greedinees.but i can’t . not because lacking my attempt or my willing; but i think the atmosphere which they getting voilence, unfaithness make them aal of it. i think for changing world first of all we must create world surround by peace, equllibrium in both finacially and socially.

  26. jibek says:

    through your books i have changed my own world , i became happy and changed my attitude to the world, before everythig seemed bad now it is cool < because the happiness is not in the outside it is in your heart. every person wants the piece in his heart

  27. Salve Paulo;

    O mundo ní£o precisa de salvaí§í£o e é do jeito que tem que ser. Mas nós precisamos. As maiores reformas sí£o as í­ntimas.


  28. Damaris nyinge says:

    First is to thank you so much for the inspiration you have been to me, And urge you to carry on the good work.

    You have said it in the simplest and the best way posssible that you can’t change the world. indeed you can’t change the world. For this world to change it will take me and you.

    The greatest commandment that God gave was so simple love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.when you love your neighbour and the neighbour loves the other one and the chain goes on to the other,then we will not need to go shopping for peace. It will already be exsisting among us and we will have changed the world .


  29. zeinab says:

    Change Yourself First !

    There is no greater teacher than one’s own practical example.

    To be really benevolent therefore means that I must first change, then I have the power, the knowledge and the experience of thinking and doing for the ultimate benefit of all.

    ~ Brahma Kumaris, Mt Abu.

  30. nischaya says:

    Mr. Coelho, I would have been skeptical before about what you have just said about bringing improvements in your own-self before the world.

    But after experiencing first hand with meditation to first bring change withing myself, I found that you are right.

    The change must come from within first.

  31. elixir43 says:

    ..to begin with why to change the world? or for that matter ourselves?
    We can improve upon the existing situations but cannot change them. The basic inherent features of the world or us remain same.
    Reference may be made here from ‘Alchemist’ when the boy first met him. When asked by the Alchemist why did he dare to read the omens, the boy replied that what he predicted was the war and not the outcome of the war. Maktub.

  32. Eff says:

    I wonder how you gets this energy and insight from.I really respect you and each of your article make me give another perspective on each situation like your books with many messages for them who think !!

    As you aptly mentioned ; “Individual responsibility” is some thing that can change everything and to add to it all prophets Adam,Hood,idris,Ibrahim,Nooh,Musa,Isa and Muhammed(pbuh) said to LOVE human being and care the needy and be kind and said about only one god and fear no one but him.

    Verily,its only few like you who understands that in true perspective.

    I live in India and I don’t know how the corruption can be stopped as that’s the things which preventing all our tax money to dust and preventing to reach to the needy and poor.If the tax money has been properly utilized the country would have been surpassed any economy in world long back.Its the foorprint of each generation which has been passed to next gen here.At least new gen know what ethics is,Sadly we can only complainant protest.Who ever is elected they do horse trading to win the majority just to remain in power and to do corruption.

    As an ambassador of Peace can you do something against ANTI-CORRUPTION ?To me that’s another way of bringing Peace by ensuring the eligible living standards for the poor.

    Nice day Paulo and God Bless.


    1. Nancy says:

      After I read your comment I felt something has changed in India. You changed something when you posted this comment.

  33. Katerina says:

    “i can’t change the world, I can’t change my country, I can’t change my city, I can’t even change my neighborhood… what I can change is my street.” – actually i think this position “I can’t …” is very conviniet to avoid your resposabilitites for most things around you, but the trick has double bottom – you’re still responsable, but don’t notice it, you’re responsable for doing nothing

    “I still believe that most of the real changes are made in a small scale. ” – bravo Mr.PAulo, +1 -i’m agree with you on 100%

  34. Kuldeep Kaur says:

    It is a nice topic today,”how to change the world”,I remember an incident a small girl holding a very thin and small candle was telling her friend that this is the strongest thing I am holding in my hand,when I heard this I asked her how this small and thin candle can be a strongest thing.She said with this small candle I can lighten the whole world only thing I need is a matches to ignite this candle. She was very right,if we want to change this world first we have to lighten ourselves with the feeling of love and compassion then teach our children then tell them to tell this thing to their friends slowly slowly every heart will be full of love and compassion and you will see a change.

  35. Fernando says:

    I completly agree. We cannot suddenly change the hole world, but we can change everyone around us. The power of changing is inside ourselves. Believe on that, and the world will change faster than you imagine.

  36. Bertília Maria M. Lins says:

    A Paz comeí§a em nós,se podemos ser pacificadores onde quer que estejamos já é um grande benefí­cio,se bem que ní£o seja tí£o fácil consegui-la;nem todos que estí£o perto de nós estí£o em paz,o ser humano vive em conflito constante,mas o mais importante é que possamos dar a nossa parcela,já é uma chama que se acende.Parabéns pelo Instituto,esta sim é uma bela parcela.

  37. Abraham says:

    I don’t want to force change on the world. But, if the world did not change, we would not have seen the progress we have achieved. Real change is when it happens from within, willingly. However, very often, in the process of our progress, we are unaware of what we have to change. When we were infants, we were completely dependent. Then we were scared to be independent. When we were alone, we were uncomfortable. As days went by, our parents and those around us gave us the confidence to do things on our own. They made us confident to perform even when we were all alone, to think, visualize, experiment and create, to create a new world. Then, came someone, who had another view of the world. It appeared to be violating the new independent world, which we just created. A lot of heartburns, scarred interactions, introspection and coaching, it dawns on us, that independence alone would not be the best approach. Gradually, we start to accept that we live in a world that depends mutually on one another, that is interdependent. Thus, we learn to accept a new reality, not entirely individually. Often we are blinded by our present, to the possibility of a better and new world. We let others influence us, if only we allow them, to open our eyes to progress. Our parents, family, friends, teachers and many others helped us change our world, change the world as we saw it and created strength in us to be able to bring change for the betterment of the world, may be in just us, may be just around us, or may be in a big way. The world we live in today, is not the world that existed a few centuries back, and will not be the same a few decades from now. Each of us has the power to create change, without forcing it on the world.
    There are some things that I propose to the world, and would like a serious consideration.
    1. Firstly, our faith is our personal relationship with God. Religion, rituals and coercion will not help us reach God. We have to search within us to find our path to God. We have a large population of our brothers and sisters who live under the rigid conviction that theirs is the only way to reach God. Worse still, they consider that they have the divine charge to force the world to adopt their belief.
    2. Secondly, we live in a world with extreme inequality. Inequality of wealth, inequality of income, inequality of livelihood, inequality of healthcare, inequality of facilities for education, inequality of decent food and shelter, inequality of care and nutrition for children. This inequality is only widening and the most of those who are privileged are either living in denial, or arrogance, or avoidance. Imagine a world where one lives in a 2 billion dollar house, where millions live without a roof on top. Imagine tens of thousands of children dying each day due to malnutrition, while millions of others live wasting food, obese and tons of grain rotting in storages. That group of our world leading a life of excess would have to accept the unfortunate reality of those less privileged, feel their pain and change their world by filling their hearts with compassion.
    3. Both these will have to happen in the minds and hearts of all of us. In our own way, individually or collectively, we have to influence change, in small or big ways, creating the willingness to accept in each of us.

  38. Robin says:

    I totally agree, we can,t change the whole world but if we can change someones lives and even our on lives, we are already doing a great thing for human kind and evolution of ourselves, we can only start change when we purify our hearts and thoughts, knowing that only through charity and love we can achieve anything in this life, not only love for our family and friends, but loving even our enemies because they too have a job to make us see the truth about ourselves and in most cases they bring the best in us, we have to pray for them also, the unified world that is coming in the future we are not going to need enemies anymore and will live as one soul, walking towards the light, so lets start working to speed up this process…its our duty we have been given a chance to make a difference, who knows when are we going to be given another chance as there many souls willing to try again, so lets not waste our lives kisses in all your hearts, peace