Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.
We live in a frustrating era, but then again, if you study history long enough you soon realize that every era is fraught with challenges and frustrations. In the midst of the talking heads on the 24/7 new networks, you’d think the entire world is waiting with bated breath for the latest Trump indictment or new evidence on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Here’s a newsflash for the carefully ethnically blended and gender-balanced news teams on both the far right and the far left, “I’m not watching anymore.”
Nothing they have to offer, and especially nothing that the politicians they feed on, is ever going to help me, you, or anyone we know. I still read the news regularly, but the cable TV slant is too much for me and I’ve turned it off.
How can anything change when all the pundits want to do is toss grenades at each other, take wildly, ridiculous stances on even the most mundane issue, and spend their days begging for money? The answer is it can’t. Nothing will change if we depend on politicians to do it.
Does that mean nothing will ever change, that we’re stuck in the same rut, in the same medical, economic, and social morass we clog through daily? Once again, the answer is no, there is a way for things to change and it starts with you.
How can one person make a difference? That’s the cry of the impotent who just give up and walk away from problems. Privately they’re hoping someone else steps forward to solve their particular issue, but if you don’t do it, no one else can either.
I never got much out of mandatory teacher meetings on Friday afternoons, or equally mandated “training” sessions that destroyed staff morale every year the day before the kids came back, but I took one little item to heart after it was delivered on a hot, muggy afternoon in a room crowded with fellow teachers, none of whom wanted to be there.
If you haven’t heard the tale of the starfish it’s a good one, if you know it already, it won’t hurt you to read it again.
One morning a little girl was walking along the beach after a strong storm. There were thousands of starfish washed up by the storm tide. As the little girl walked up to a starfish, she picked it up and threw it back into the ocean.
Adults got a good laugh watching the little girl, knowing she could never save the thousands of starfish slowly drying in the morning sun.
After an hour or so, a man came up to her and said. “Why are you doing this? Look at this beach, there are so many starfish, you can’t save them all, you can’t make any difference.”
The little girl looked at him, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the ocean. “I made a difference for that one,” she said.
The man was stunned by her answer, but a few moments later, he picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean.
The message is that a single determined person can still make a difference in the world.
As the basketball legend Michael Jordan once said, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”
Life is about taking shots, risking the safety of the ordinary for a chance to make a difference. You won’t find that difference in money, politicians, or social media. You’ll find that difference in people willing to stand outside the fire and take personal responsibility for a problem.
It doesn’t have to be a huge shift for one person to get the ball rolling, it simply be the first one to step forward.
As a high school senior, I took the ACT at Central Wyoming College. The test began at 8:00 am. I drove to the parking lot and parked a few minutes early. As I looked around the lot several dozen other teenagers were sitting in their cars.
I had no idea where the testing center was, but I knew I wasn’t going to take the test in my 62’ Nova.
I got out and started walking toward a building. I heard the sound of dozens of car and pickup doors slamming behind me.
The entire group followed me inside the building, even though I had no idea where I was going. I ran into a custodian in the hall and asked him where the test was being held, he gave me directions and I was the first kid in the room, followed seconds later by everyone else.
It was a small difference in the world, but if I hadn’t taken the risk of looking foolish by being the first one to move I don’t know if any of us would have taken the test.
Here are a few comments from people who made the world a much better place than I ever could.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples,” Mother Teresa said.
Yes, I slam politicians, at least today’s politicians, but there were once good men and women leading this country, men like Eisenhower and Kennedy.
“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try,” JFK said.
Ironically, it was one person, a madman, who changed the entire course of American History on a November day in Dallas with three shots fired from the Texas Book Depository Building. One person making a change is not always a positive thing.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama was right. Like him or not, he represented one of the greatest changes ever in the Oval Office.
Choosing the change you want to make, whether it’s positive or negative depends on your view of a situation. It is tempting to “take someone with you” in a desperate situation but that only spreads the pain, it never removes it.
Jane Goodall (yes, the gorilla lady) addressed that issue, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Some people make a difference in a very short time. I think of Ann Frank and those years of terror she experienced in hiding before the Nazis captured her and her family and executed them in a death camp. The teenage girl’s diary has been both an inspiration and a warning for generations.
Change doesn’t require a platform, a social media page, or a gun, it can come from choosing a path and serving as an example.
Mahatma Gandhi changed the most populated peninsula on the planet without ever harming anyone, or even raising his voice, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world,” he said.
Let’s wrap this up with that little girl and the starfish. Every time I think of her, the lyrics to one of my favorite songs come to mind. Terry Jacks had a one-hit wonder back in the 70s with “Seasons in the Sun.” Here is the verse that rings with this idea, “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
But the stars we could reach were just starfish on the beach.”
Be like Mother Teresa, if you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one, but keep it simple and wise like the words of The Lorax written by Dr. Seuss. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to change. It’s not.”