This month’s theme is “Change”, and when I pondered what I wanted to say, I kept coming back this Ghandi quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Be the Change You Want to See in the World.
I live in St. Louis, and in October, I wrote about my experience in Ferguson, following the shooting of Michael Brown. This event, and much of what happened since, changed our society, changed our community, changed my family, changed me. Change is hard and never comes easily, but many times change is hastened by necessity. Our society and community, as well as my family and me, need to recognize where change is necessary in addressing the racial tension, the economic disparity, and the inequality of opportunity happening here in St. Louis, and all over our world.
But…Wow! Change like this seems too overwhelming to contemplate, much less facilitate. When I think about the Ghandhi quote, though, I feel like I can’t turn away. I have to ask myself: How can I be the change I want to see in the world? What can I really do? On the other hand, the idea that I can actually make a difference regarding racial relations in my community and in our country seems almost crazy. Maybe you feel like I tend to – that whatever I do is insignificant compared to the real work that needs to be done. And I wonder, Do I really have the time and energy it takes? I think about the fact that I have a job. I have many responsibilities in my daily life. I have three kids….
But…Wait! I HAVE THREE KIDS! One thing I can do is help my kids see the world as a place to BE THE CHANGE! I don’t know what my kids will end up doing in this world, or who they will become, but right now they are goldmines of potential! Right now they can do anything when they grow up! When I think about the fact that what I’m doing is raising people – citizens – not just kids, I can get overwhelmed, but I can also get excited. Part of my responsibility, as their mother, is to raise them to care about others, to care about change, to want to be change. Obviously my kids will grow up to be who they are. I can’t make them into certain types of people… but I sure can try! Influencing them now, is some of my real work – work that I believe will make a difference and facilitate change.
My 13-year-old son asked me recently, in a conversation about Ferguson, “Mom, what can I really do?” What a great question – with both not-enough and too-many answers! I didn’t immediately know how to respond. After a lengthy discussion, he and I decided that what we can both do is respond to the opportunities that come our way. We didn’t make a specific action plan, but we decided to seek opportunities to serve others, and to be open to the needs that find us. And it worked. Gregory and I have and are serving in ways that we weren’t before our conversation about Ferguson. Our idea of “being the change” constantly looks different, and the conversations he and I have must be on-going. While we could easily think that each small act of ours is not very impactful, we have to believe that all of these small acts, put together, done by all of us, will make a difference. Together, by caring about our communities, and looking for opportunities, we can “be the change we want to see in the world”!
Author: Laura Pierson