Sitting by the window with my second cup of coffee, I see the world beyond the windowsill looking calm and serene.

The leaves are off the trees, carpeting the lawn with crunchy brown swathes, waiting for the wind to deliver them to a neighbor’s yard. The sun is shining overhead, highlighting the two brave pansy flowers nodding in their pot. Inside, Fran — the grey and white cat — sits on her perch near the window, waiting for a visit from a bird or chipmunk to amuse her.

But beyond this suburban landscape all is not well. Thanks to the skills of photographers, videographers and drone pilots everywhere, we are constantly barraged by the sad and ugly scenes of universal upheaval. Graphic portraits of soldiers and civilians in Ukraine bring the war into our living rooms. A volunteer from World Central Kitchen stirs the largest pot of soup I’ve ever seen so that refugees will be warmed with sustenance for their uncertain journey. In South Sudan, babies are robbed of a future because there is no food. I can’t imagine a more horrible fate than watching your child starve to death.

Closer to home, there is another type of upheaval, with equally devastating results. The fabric of our society is being shredded by angry mobs, sociopathic shooters and multitudes of lying, cheating political hacks. Threats from sophisticated computer hackers all over the world endanger our lives in so many ways, from air travel to banking to nuclear destruction. How have we come this far?

Many blame technology for the ease at which these perils surround the globe. For every computer attack, there are several hands on the keyboard. For every assault weapon, there are itchy fingers waiting to unleash their fury on perceived enemies. As Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” so succinctly stated: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

As part of the human family, we all have some role in its success or failure. For everyone who wants to tear down a wall, there is a Hans Brinker willing to stick his finger in the dike and try to save it. The question we each have to ask ourselves is: Are we a destroyer or a defender? Once you’ve answered that, think about how you reveal your choice to the world around you.

Do you yell and scream, sit and stew, or push the “snooze” button until the problem goes away? Do you choose a cause that is important to you and make a difference — even a small one? Because I went to Catholic schools, I grew up collecting pennies, making posters for Catholic Charities or giving up a precious toy. Acts of charity were part of the norm.

When I was in high school, Dr. Tom Dooley was a missionary in Southeast Asia. I was determined to aid his cause, so I enlisted the aid of my friends and family to hold a bake sale. We raised about $50 from our efforts, purveying cupcakes in the front of the JJ Newberry store. It was with a great sense of pride that I sent our earnings off to his charity. I still remember what that felt like.

Doing good can be anything, from writing a letter or making a phone call. It can be as huge as donating money or serving as a volunteer in Vista or the Salvation Army. The Christophers — a Catholic organization — say: “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Think of the impact if we each lit our own little candle. Picture a world illuminated by our light, from birthday candles to powerful lighthouse beacons. Together, we can make a difference.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.