I recently had a discussion with someone around the direction of humanity. (No small subject here!) The outcome of the discussion was representative of what I have heard over and over in regard to political issues, human failings, and the general state of humanity: “oh well, I can’t do anything about it!”
When did we adopt a victim mindset to our existence? A mindset that demonstrates an inability to change the collective mindset, our ways of thinking and our assumptions? Yes, the world’s challenges do seem overwhelming at times. Where did they begin and how do they end? We have overcome, continued to grow and thrive, and change our ways of being for thousands of years.
I believe the question really is, “where do I begin?” Every great movement is started by one. Do a Google search for Derek Silvers’ “How to Start a Movement” for a fun demonstration of this. All it takes is a few followers to start a ripple effect. We have seen this rippling gain great momentum and create both negative and positive impact and change.
In Irvin Yalom’s book Staring at the Sun, Yalom talks about the rippling effect. He writes that it “refers to the fact that each of us creates, often without our conscious intent or knowledge, concentric circles of influence that may affect others for years, even generations.” The effect we have on others is in turn passed on, much as the ripples in a pond go on and on until they are not visible BUT continue at a nano level.
Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. There have been many books on how to influence others because when you have the power and ability to affect others, you are creating a paradigm shift through the ripple effect. So, if nothing else, you have the ability to create the change you want by being the change you want. If you want a change in gun laws, be diligent in following the politics, be vocal, be involved, and be authentic in your living (NO GUNS in your home)! This will create more influence than you realize. All it takes is one and a few followers to start a movement!
Self and Civic Responsibility
Beyond Influencing, taking self- and civic responsibility will create the change you want to see happen. Self-Responsibility means looking at what you can do to influence and create a ripple effect as I mentioned in the example above. When you take responsibility for whatever that is, you are no longer a victim to humanity. Civic responsibility means getting involved in the community, register to vote, participate in local government or hold public office. There is so much that you can do as an individual to influence and be a part of creating change. “I’m starting with the man in the mirror” is a way of being as much as a song by one of the greats!
A Conversation — A Ripple — A Change
All these examples below came out of conversations. Each idea was the brainchild of one person who, through agreement and collaboration, created a movement. They saw a need and met it.
As you read through these examples remember the comment: “oh well, I can’t do anything about it!” You will clearly see that is a fallacy you are telling yourself.
- “Bricks and Sticks” Built Environment – Community conversation around sex trafficking jumpstarts the building of new housing for women seeking to rebuild their lives.
- Cultural Resources – A small group of high school students responds to racial unrest in their school by hosting student-led conversations that generate new understanding, solutions and action from the administration.
- Economic Vitality – Series of conversations leads to the creation of a program that helps thousands of Minnesotans become homeowners, start small businesses and go back to school.
- Leadership Everywhere – Leadership development program creates opportunities for congregations, clergy and people of faith to come together and discuss ways to collectively improve racial and economic equity.
- Natural Environment – Grassroots organization hosts community dialogue sessions that shift public opinion and generate cross-sector support for the removal of non-functioning river dams, setting the conditions for improved water quality and habitat.
- Political Influence – State agency, in collaboration with a community-initiated credit union, hosts a series of statewide listening sessions that results in a legislative agenda to address poverty.
- Social Glue (connections across people and organizations) – Coalition of twenty organizations and agencies that serve families with preschool children in the same region host conversations to develop shared definitions of success, and create more opportunities for success together than they would have separately.
We are not victims of the human experience; we are victims of our “lack of” willingness to participate in life!
If you truly want something to change, be that change, become a part of that change and live the change. All of that is within your power to do. See what you can create in the world!