An Open Letter to Myself.
The world is changing. And it's changing rapidly. We can stare at our phones/tablets/tvs and see it happening in real time. We see the pictures. We watch the videos. And we know that the world is becoming something else.
And that's scary.
But it's more than that. It's brilliant. It's turmoil. It's beauty. It's moving forward even as you're pushed back. It's all these things and more. In fact, that's one of the ways the world, and we as individuals, are changing--we're all these things at once. This isn't a zero-sum game. It's not either/or. It never truly was but too many of us had convinced ourselves otherwise.
There is no us vs. them. There is only WE.
We will work together to solve our problems. We will talk and listen and argue and fight. We will live together. And we will die together.
I came across a quote the other day that struck me. Although it was about teaching in classrooms, I felt its message in my heart:
"I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized."
This was said by Haim Ginott, a child psychologist and teacher. He always had a very brilliant approach to teaching like saying only behavior is treated as unacceptable, not the child.
I read these words and can't help but entangle those thoughts with the world outside my window. A world of sirens and protests, fear, uncertainty and the ever-present sound of helicopters overhead. Replace 'classroom' in the quote with 'neighborhood' or 'city' or 'world' and you'll see what I mean. Replace 'child' with 'person'.
I possess, within me, the power to affect the lives around me. I do. Me. Not the government. Not the media. Me.
Immediately after thinking that, I knew there was a flip side to that: I am RESPONSIBLE for making a difference. Me. Not the government. Not the media. ME.
Our country will heal. We will heal. We will move forward boldly, finding new ways to solve old problems. We will come out of these dark times stronger together.
But it starts with me.
So, I'm making some promises to myself. Simple ways that I will work on making myself and my world a better place:
My greatest weapon is my ability to tell a story. But this is not my story to tell. I promise to listen to others. Listen to what their lives are like, what they go through and what they need. I promise to listen to someone even if I disagree with them because there is no way we can compromise if we don't understand where the other stands. I will take in new information and adjust my views so I may continuously move forward. Just because I'm a good person doesn't mean I haven't unconsciously harmed others. And I need to own that. I need to listen to those people who tell me that.
I stand shoulder to shoulder with my human family. We all have a seat at the table. We all have a voice that deserves to be heard. I promise to support those who need a helping hand and step back when they don't. I'm not going to try to solve every problem but I will work on those that cross my path. I promise to help lift the voices of those that are not heard.
This world will not improve if we just sit around and do nothing. I promise to get involved in any way I can. With my words, my time, my donations...whether and however I am able, I will be there. It doesn't matter how much I've helped in the past. This is a promise to the future. Whether I'm on the front lines or behind the scenes, I will actively help to make this a better world for everyone. I will take my blessings and pass them on to others.
That's it. Just three simple things. Not so simple, of course. But hey, if it's easy, it's not worth it. And if it's worth it, it's not easy.
One more quote before I go. This one is from Jack Johnson. Yeah, 'Bubble Toes' guy:
Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart.