By Neal Lemery
Often, I react to the news with despair, anger and frustration. I remind myself that the “news” is often sensationalized, that the news business is a business, and that almost all the “good news” is not included in a news program. Yet, what much of what is “news” stirs me up to wanting change, a different approach to old problems.
If I want change, I have to act.
If I am passive, then others will make changes, or not. And those actions or inactions will likely not be what I want to see happen. I will not have a voice. My silence, my inaction diminishes my soul and my purpose in life.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world,” Mahatma Gandhi famously said.
Yet, to borrow a phrase from Al Gore, it is an inconvenient truth.
If I don’t like what I read in the news, then either I am an instrument to change the world, or I do nothing. My inaction assures that I lose my right to express my disagreement with what is going on. After all, actions speak louder than words.
I am in charge of how I react, respond, how I am an instrument of change, putting action into my beliefs, and thus creating change, building a better world.
If I don’t like what I see in my community, my neighborhood, my family, then I need to step up and get involved, and become an instrument of change.
A healthier community starts with me. Put up or shut up. It’s all on me.
The simple acts are the easiest and the most effective. They have the greatest impact long term.
Here’s a list of actions for me, and, hopefully, you:
•Invite a friend to coffee.
•Play music, and teach someone else, sharing music with others, creating joy and community.
•Start a conversation with a stranger.
•Send an inspirational note or story to a friend.
•Reach out to a prisoner, someone who is going through a hard patch, someone in pain.
•Acknowledge someone’s loss, or a challenge, and offer them a compliment, a few words of cheer and encouragement. They are not alone.
•Practice patience and understanding.
•Don’t expect a reward or recognition. Acting anonymously can be very sweet.
•Practice forgiveness and compassion, even if another’s words or acts seem hurtful.
•Imagine walking in the shoes of another.
•Remember the Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they shall never sit in.”
•Slow to judge, quicker to forgive.
•Intend to follow the Golden Rule.
•Examine your own biases and prejudices. Do some personal housekeeping. I’ve found this to be very humbling and enlightening.
My ego gets in the way in this work, but if I am honest, I learn more about myself and the world, and I move forward to be a better human being.
And, the world changes, just a little.