" It is wrong to think that an individual citizen can effect change at this point in history. "
It is not wrong, but it is depressing and frustrating. That bitterness and frustration leads some misguided souls to a logical conlusion: one person can effect change, but it is much easier to effect change in a negative manner than it is in a positive one.
Which is easier? Devoting all your energy, your entire life, towards a goal, like Martin Luther King or Ghandi did, unsure whether you'll make a difference at all, or be written off as Yet Another Crackpot - and to be assassinated in the end for all your efforts? Or to be that assassin - to make your mark on history by attacking someone already in the public eye? It has always been easier to destroy than to create.
Who will be remembered in the next century - the already nameless workers trying to feed the poor and provide disaster relief, or the two dorks who killed a handful of highschool students? What was easier to accomplish - the uphill, and ongoing, fight for minority rights, or steering a couple of planes into the New York skyline?
This is what the moderately intelligent outcasts of today see - "It doesn't matter if I vote or not, because the election is already bought and won. But if I could settle the score with this rifle..." Obviously bad, twisted and wrong thinking, but that's history for you.
So, I've been swinging between contracting and being unemployed for the last year and a half or so. What have I accomplished in that time? Not as much as you'd expect a halfway-intelligent guy would accomplish in a year of free time.
Every once in a while, I get it into my head to try to get some regular physical exercise. One of my less consistent attempts has been at Aikido - I make it out to a dojo maybe once every six months or so. I would say I was rusty, but that would imply there being something to rust. One of the things that stuck with me, however, was one of the first times I went to City Aikido, and one of the instructors corrected the way I had my gi arranged. As he showed me that the right way was to have the front right side over left, instead of left over right, he said, "This is the way we wear the gi in training. The other way is only for when they bury you in it."
This came to mind again recently, as I was getting out of the shower and putting my robe on as usual, left over right. Over the last few months, I've made a conscious effort to tie it right over left. It seems trivial, but in breaking from my years-ingrained routine in a small way, it reminds me every day that I'm supposed to be practicing, instead of getting ready to be buried.