One of my favorite things about teaching college students is their infectious idealism. So many of them are passionate about making the world a better place.

I certainly applaud that attitude. The world needs to be a better place.

Unfortunately, I’ve observed in my nearly six decades on this planet that there is very little the average person can do to change the world. Unless your name is Mother Theresa, Jonas Salk, or Martin Luther King, Jr., you’re probably not going to able, in your short lifetime, to make the world a better place for everyone.

However, there is one thing each of us can do that will resonate through the ages, changing lives for generations to come. Sadly, it is precisely the thing young people today are being told NOT to do, in the interests of “combatting climate change” or some such nonsense.

Pay no attention to the Chicken Littles. If you really want to change the world, you should get married and raise a family. Have several children — three or four, at least. Not just one or two. Teach them to be decent human beings — to be kind, to be self-reliant, to be unselfish.

After all, when we say “the world,” we’re really talking about people. To change the world, you have to change people. And if you can’t make the people who are already here better — which most of us, honestly, have neither the opportunity nor the ability to do — then the next best thing is to increase the number of decent people we put on the earth.

We call that “raising a family.” And it’s been going on since the dawn of time.

Note that I say “get married” first. Sorry to sound old-fashioned, but that’s incredibly important. Multiple studies show that children raised by a married mother and father do significantly better in practically every way than children who lack that advantage.

More important, the commitment two people show when they get married — and stay married, through thick and thin— has a profound impact on their children and beyond.

For instance, my grandparents were married for more than 60 years. They raised seven children, all of whom turned out to be good, decent, productive members of society and went on to raise good kids of their own. (For the most part. I might have one or two borderline sketchy cousins.)

The same is true of my wife’s parents, who were married for over 50 years and put six good people out into the world — each of whom then produced four or five of their own (or, in one case, eight).

That’s how it works. That’s how it was designed to work. Very few of us can change the world substantially overnight, but all of us can do our part to bring about incremental change.

God in his infinite wisdom provided a mechanism for that. It’s called “family.”

Rob Jenkins is a local writer and college professor. The views expressed here are his own. You can email Rob at rob.jenkins@outlook.com.