There has been a recurring theme in my conversations with people this past month. What starts as a chat about politics, ends with an overwhelming sense of helplessness. And, it’s no wonder! We have big problems in this country, and around the world and it seems the bad and the ugly are winning. Our two political parties are hunkered down, in their respective trenches, planning strategies, firing off shots, and determined to bring home a victory. Yet the rest of us, are left deserted on the battlefield, tiptoeing around landmines, burying the dead, and caring for the wounded. We stand and look around this gnarled and twisted landscape and hear the cries and pleas from the ghosts that rest here. Their faded, peaked hands reach up from their graves holding signs that read “poverty”, “homelessness”, “sick”, “uneducated”, “addict”, “racism”, “Social Security”, “immigration”, and so on and so forth in endless rows of tumbled headstones. Desperate to help, we look to the right and then, we look to left and as much as we tug and pull to bring the ends to meet in the middle, the rope snaps and we are left holding nothing but tattered threads. We look up into the distance, see our future on the horizon, and standing knee-deep in our problems, we can’t help but feel concerned, confused, and utterly helpless.
So who is to blame? I have my theories. Certainly the media should accept a large part of the blame. What we see on television or read in the paper or online, is not as much newsworthy as it is ratings’ worthy. The reality is sweet, human interest stories do not sell, doom and gloom does. Social media especially loves a juicy, gory story. You discovered the cure for cancer? Great, you may get a few retweets. Tweet about another’s personal demise and downward spiral, and watch your “share’s” increase like rabbits in springtime. I also hear the “system” is to blame but that is too broad a statement to tackle at the moment. We can also point our fingers at our politicians, greedy corporate America, video game creators, and other power-worthy individuals and institutions protecting their own self-interest at the expense of others. While all of the above certainly bear some blame for the current state of our country, they do not top my list. The biggest offender, in my opinion, is me. Well, you and me, that is.
If I am honest, President Obama did not factor into my decision to eat an entire bag of Sweet and Salty Caramel pretzels for breakfast this morning. CNN did not influence my decision to take a nap instead of going on a run. The big, business owner didn’t make me purchase a handbag instead of saving for a new dishwasher. In reading the stories in this mornings’ paper, I do not believe a person of power or a single political entity is responsible for forcing a needle into the arm of a drug addict, or pulling the trigger of a gun, or purchasing cigarettes and drugs in lieu of feeding children. While I would love to blame them or really anything or anyone to justify my actions or the actions of others, I recognize, I have free will and what I choose to do with it, is on me. I tune in to watch the ugly news stories and I click on the doom and gloom articles and read them. I narrow my search for information from sources which support only my personal and political views. I close myself in a cocoon of self-indulgence shielding me from the cries of help and evil lurking just outside my window. I am to blame for allowing our problems, the ugliness in society, to not only set the tone for our current political climate, but to set the tone for future generations. However, there is power in realizing I am part of the problem, because in doing so, it means I am part of the solution.
I believe in the power of positivity. I am done with glorifying the bad, I want to focus my attention on utilizing grassroots efforts to showcase the good. Because, man, I know, there is a lot of good being done in the world; we just do not ever hear about it. This brings me to my point. Help me promote goodness and in doing so, create the change we want to see in the world. Here is my challenge:
- Be a Good Deed Detective. People all around you are doing wonderful things for others. Even in the smallest acts, like opening a door or saying “thank you”, people are acting with kindness and making positive human connections. For the next month, make note of the goodness you see being done all around you and post your stories in the comment section on Facebook.
- Challenge yourself to look outside the walls of your own home and see the acts of good being done in the community around you and your family.
- Share this Blog post on Facebook and challenge your family and friends to participate in our experiment. I’d love to read stories from people in different cities and maybe even, other countries. Looking for the good in people instead of focusing on the bad, may become contagious. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could all catch it?
In sharing good deed stories, I do not want to diminish the seriousness of the problems in our country. We cannot hang our hats on one political candidate to win the election and fix all of our problems. To change our future for the better ,we must take accountability and start the process from within. Through sharing our stories, I want to highlight the goodness in humanity and harness that energy to be a driving force in changing the mindset of individuals throughout our communities, cities, country, and the world (gotta think big). What are people doing in their every day lives that are already making someone else’s day better? What can we learn from their actions? How can we start to make a difference in our own communities? The reality is, what we learn together through this challenge, may not lead to big changes but, that is okay. At the very least, focusing on what is good and changing from within, may take us from feeling helpless to hopeful and that, in my opinion, is a great place to start.