Reality Reflection: Fighting Injustice

I believe that we’re capable of making the world into a better place and we’re also capable of destroying it. It’s a choice we have to make each day with our words and actions. We may not see the impact our individual actions have on the world at all times, but you can be sure that they are having an impact.

This past week I was paging through stations on the radio and caught the end of an interview on Z100 with Laura and Vanessa Marano who have a movie out on the topic of human trafficking, which is a bigger issue than we would believe. It’s not something that happens only in books, it happens in real life as well, in fact it’s a billion dollar industry.

If you want to listen to just the interview with the ladies you can watch it here, but the part I caught was about 85 minutes into this podcast of the whole morning show that day, talking about the topic of trafficking and about the publicity it doesn’t get. This portion of the show wrapped with the hosts raising the question of why it’s not something people talk about, how uncomfortable it makes some people, how some people in power shut down all talk on subjects like this, and the importance and responsibility of organizations and groups like this radio show who have tons of publicity to, as one senior executive producer said, talk about tough topics even if it makes some listeners turn off the station.  Because for every listener that doesn’t change the channel, it’s one more person who’s hearing the message and maybe able to do something to help.

Unfortunately there are still injustices happening in the world on a daily basis. We’ve not beat the monster at the game yet. We’re doing better in many respects because of social media and the ability to spread the word with less censure from those who would try to use their power or resource to hinder and hide. The first way we can fight human trafficking, help veterans, fight substance abuse, fight race discrimination and the other issues that keep parents and partners and countless others up at night is if we speak up and let people know it’s not acceptable and we’re not going to be quiet about it. From there we have to start making changes so that fewer people are hurt or taken or profiled unfairly and incorrectly or dismissed. It won’t happen in one day, but with tenacity we’ll be able to make an impact.

What causes are close to your heart and you support?

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You Are Enough

An acquaintance of mine was let go of at her job recently. It’s always hard to hear when that happens, even if you’re not really close with a person because almost all of us need the work (and paycheck) to live. I know her well enough to know that she and her boss are both strong personalities and she had struggled with some issues in the past regarding the job and her boss, so while it’s not a timely event, I wasn’t greatly surprised that it happened, it was just a lot sooner than I thought it might happen.

In processing this event the topic of ‘enough’ came up. It’s a topic we all contemplate from time to time: Am I doing enough at work? Am I doing enough at home? Am I doing enough with my partner? Where am I/we going to find enough hours in the day for all of this? Will I/we ever have enough time? Doesn’t the world have enough content and blogs and people selling this thing already? Will I/we ever have enough resources? Am I enough?

It’s a touchy subject but one that I think needs consideration on all aspects. Let’s start with the last question. I believe that each of us are sufficient for the calling we have on our lives. I don’t believe we have to be anyone else, nor should we try to be. It’s when we try to do more than we’re capable of or asked to do that we tend to trip ourselves up. As far as the other questions, yes, we each do have a responsibility to contribute to the best of our ability each and every day to all parts of our lives.

But we also have to consider the contribution that others are putting forth and if they’re not doing their part. You can encourage them to contribute more or explain how you’re feeling or talk with them about renegotiating expectations, but if they don’t want to live up to their responsibility that’s ultimately their issue. Unfortunately sometimes the rest of us get caught up in that though, and sometimes it comes down to the fact that you can only do your part and leave it at that.

So what if you’re the one who’s not enough? Start by making a serious list of your responsibilities, what your priorities are (how you’re focusing your time), contributions on a daily basis, and areas where you’re consistently struggling. If the things you’re focusing on aren’t lining up with what other people are sharing, then either you need to re-prioritize, or you need to have a discussion with them and make changes.

What about you? What have you been really successful in this week? What areas have you struggled in? How will you finish this week strong?

Reality Reflection: Whose Responsibility is it?

I think that at our heart most of us want to help others and make the world a better place. Sure, we look out for our own interests and we occasionally completely miss what’s going on around us (and cause issues for others), but I feel like if we were given a choice that was win-win, we’d agree to it more often than not. Then you’ve got some people who are people-pleasers. They’re people who go out of their way to try to make others happy, almost always without thought to their own happiness. Then you’ve got the helpers, they’re the people who try to help others even when/if they’re not willing to help themselves. It’s this last one that I got to thinking about today.

I think with our win-win hearts we can often give people the motivation or encouragement, and certainly provide them with the opportunity to step up to the plate and do something good/better for their lives. That’s one of the best ways that we can help each other. It goes in line with the ‘teach a man to fish’ quote. For those of us who have that heart it’s tough to see people who aren’t willing to take that hand and get the help they need.

While there’s not set time on how long you should try to help someone, at some point you may have to step back and just let the cards fall where they may. Your job is to be responsible for your life and the lives of anyone who is physically dependent on you (a child, elderly individual or individual with special needs). It’s not your job to be responsible for the whole world. It’s a tough and disheartening lesson to learn.

Even when you decide to take a step back (or another one), that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope, it just means that you’re not going to step up either when the other person won’t.  There’s nothing wrong with helping others, in fact it’s essential to all of us thriving in this world.  But you can’t force people to change or become someone or do something they’re ultimately not willing (or don’t care enough) to do.  Do you need to take a step back today?

Reality Reflection: Educating the Voters

It’s that time of year again, election season! I don’t know about you but it is getting harder than ever to put on the TV without seeing a commercial about a politician or even just going around town there are all kinds of banners and signs up promoting different politicians. I’ve always voted, my preference is to do it by mail rather than attempt to make it to the actual polling stations on the one day that voting is done. It’s a lot less stressful that way and being that I’m not one to just vote for one specific political party by default it gives me the time to consider my decisions and know all the people up for vote before making a decision.

I love that we’re able to vote in the US for the people that we have in office. I appreciate that we’re able to have some say in who gets elected, or at least show that we care about how things get done in our country. But there’s one thing I hate about voting, especially as someone who isn’t voting by default party, is that there’s little or no information about the majority of the people who are up for election online.

Why does that matter? Because I want to know who I’m voting for, I want to know that I’m voting in the people I think will do the best job or have the relevant experience or might help bring about needed changes. But I can’t know those things unless the information about them is shared!

Sure the top candidates like senators have information online, but when you get down into the local government you’re lucky to be able to put a face to a name let alone find where they stand on issues or how they’re going to help the community. Anyone can make a free website and create free social accounts. They don’t have to be fancy or have lots of political dollars behind them to share who they are and why people should vote for them. If they want to be elected that’s the least they should do in this day and age of the internet.

Gone are the days when politicians or those desiring to hold political office can simply get into office by throwing up a few signs or holding a couple of rallies, and don’t think that you won’t be held accountable to doing work in office either. Voters have changed, it’s about time that politics and politicians understand that and start stepping up.

Reality Reflections: Appreciating Responsibilities

This month we’ve talked some about the topic of responsibilities, and this past week I found myself in an ironic situation when I wished that I didn’t have the responsibility of doing the dishes when everyone else was watching TV or sleeping.  I don’t mind doing dishes, I even find it a bit soothing, but sometimes we can find ourselves wanting a break from even the responsibilities we’ve chosen as adults.  But knowing how little my partner enjoys doing them, it was either me or no one.

Of course it got me thinking about responsibilities, both those that are handed to us as well as those we choose, and about some of our other needs and desires like love, support and freedom.  It’s not always easy to be the adult, some days you want days off for headaches and illness or just to get a break from life.  Sometimes you can take those days, but other times you’ve got to step it up and push through because you’ve got responsibilities to yourself and others.  It’s not easy to choose to push through after a full day of pushing through.

The other ironic thing is that after I got over my annoyance and did the dishes I actually felt better because the kitchen was neater and who doesn’t like clean dishes, right?!  Sometimes I think we get caught in the responsibility aspect and forget why we do it or the benefits of doing it.  Yes, some responsibilities are a burden, but very few come without rewards.  It’s something that I’m going to work on remembering this week, and adjusting my attitude when necessary towards my responsibilities.

Prayer for Students

This month we’ve been talking a bit about the topic of responsibility, one of those responsibilities is to the younger generations, both on a spiritual level as well as a whole-life level. We have to give them the tools that we’ve got as well as do our best to prepare them for what is yet to come that we don’t know about yet; challenges and opportunities that have never been seen before.

This week on Wednesday students around the US will be gathering around the flagpoles at their schools to pray for each other as well as our nation. It’s a moment where they step up and take responsibility for themselves and their school mates, the future leaders of the world. This week the rest of the US has the opportunity to pray for students and the people they will become as well, and for those who teach them and guide them.

Each year the organization behind See You At The Pole selects a passage to focus that year’s prayers on, this year it’s Ephesians 3:14: “I fall on my knees before the Father.” I encourage you to check out what they’ve shared about the thought behind their choice of passage on their website. What stood out to me was that the verse really is a reminder to pray, to seriously dedicate yourself and time to praying for what’s going on in your life and the world around you and taking the time to develop a relationship with God. We don’t always dedicate the time and effort to prayer that we should, and this verse is a reminder to do exactly that.

I encourage you to devote some of your prayer time this week for students, both those who will pray around the pole on Wednesday and those who will not, that this year will be a positive one and full of opportunities that will help shape students into the men and women that they will become.

Hope In Responsibility

It’s hard to believe that we’ve only got 4 months left in 2018. It seems like just yesterday we were cleaning up the Christmas decorations from 2017, working our way through snowstorms and planning Easter celebrations. But the reality is that many months have passed. I think one of the greatest challenges we face is the amount of time some things take to accomplish or get done, the amount of hours in a day and the amount of things we want or need to get done. I have a feeling that some day people will look back at us and wonder if we were all crazy for trying to do all that we do.

With today having been Labor Day here in the US, it seems like talking about this month’s topic is even more fitting: responsibility. I know, it’s a tough topic to talk about often because we feel we have so many responsibilities and so many people that we’re responsible to and for. And I’ll be honest, often the case is that it doesn’t all get done. And it would be good for us to all take a step back and lighten our loads and burdens a bit.

But in thinking about the topic for this month and Labor Day this weekend I’m reminded that sometimes responsibilities aren’t a burden in the sense of creating a weight that we have to carry along. Sometimes it’s a relief to have a responsibility, or to know what’s required of us. Having a job, having a family relying on us, and being called to bring God’s message of peace and joy to the world can bring us a sense of hope and peace because we know that we’re not alone in the world, that we’re able to provide for ourselves and others, and that we’re here for a reason and our life isn’t meaningless. It becomes a burden when we’re overwhelmed with quantity, can’t figure out how to fit it all in, aren’t able to find an answer or feel like we’re all alone trying to navigate everything.

If your responsibilities are feeling like a burden to you, it’s a sign that you need an attitude change, need to reevaluate what you want to be responsible for in life, and/or need more support.  If that’s how you’re feeling I encourage you to take a step back this week and do some reevaluating as we shift into September and soon autumn. Make sure that you’re holding up your end of the deal and that you’re on the path that God has for you.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13