Responsibility Transformation

On Monday I used a phrase that I think really fits with what has gone on over the past few months. It is applicable only because it seems like things have/are actually changing. No, not everyone is or will be part of this change, but for whatever reason we’re finally seeing sweeping changes, not just a couple of adjustments here and there that while helpful and important, weren’t necessarily sufficient enough to get the ball rolling on change in these areas. The phrase? Responsibility transformation.

I think most of us are aware that we’re responsible to feed ourselves, earn a living, take care of children or other dependents we may have, and keep our living space at least reasonably clean. Most of us also feel a responsibility to recycle, plant a garden, support nonprofits, or help our neighbors/community. The issues rise when not all of us act on the feelings of responsibility we have towards ourselves and each other. We’re not truly able to claim or fulfill responsibility unless we act.

Theodore Roosevelt said “Much has been given to us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as be seen as a people with such responsibilities.”

I’ve had discussions with people about some of the differences between the Spanish Flu epidemic in the early 1900’s (which killed 50 million people in 2 years), and what we’ve so far experienced with this virus. One of the biggest differences for a portion of the world now versus then is how advanced communications are. In the early 1900’s it took a long time (days/weeks/months) for news to travel, but now news travels in seconds if you have access to the technology. Unfortunately there are many around the world who don’t yet have that access, and we have yet to see how devastating the virus may be if/when it gets there.

So what about all the other transformations that are taking place, for example with regards to women being treated with respect, employment rights for the LGBTQ community that were won this week at the Supreme Court and the transformations that are taking place with regard to how people regard race and what is and isn’t within the scope of actions of a police officer? Why are these transformations only gaining traction in recent years and months if we’ve had this communication technology around for many years?

Yes, I do believe that there’s a tipping point to some extent, that enough people have finally gotten upset with things that they’re taking action and causing the big actions to happen. But I think the virus has a big part in this because it showed us we have a choice of either caring for the others that we share this world with or being careless about their health (and possibly ours) which could mean life or death. So maybe because the awareness of the importance of caring for each other has been so high, it’s finally creating the breakthrough for learning to treat each other with more respect and care regardless of the color of our skin or faith we have or sexual orientation we are or any other things that make us different.

So let’s talk about the responsibility transformation we could hopefully go through here. I think we need to be better about balancing our responsibilities. About balancing remembering history with living in the present and future (museums exist for a reason). About balancing making smart choices with your bank account with spending a little extra/effort to support businesses belonging to people of all different backgrounds (everyone is trying to earn a living). About balancing safety for all people regardless of color of their skin or illness they have or the job they’ve chosen/we’ve asked them to do (99.999% of people want to go home or be alive at the end of the day). About balancing our needs with the needs of others who can’t help themselves or need a little extra help for a season (almost everyone needs help at some point in time in their life).

Honestly I think things will be at least a little easier if we stop the fighting and racism and inequality and start working together. That doesn’t mean that everyone has the same amount in their bank account or lives in mansions or eats fancy meals every night (or whatever other qualifier you want to use), but it means that everyone has a fair shot at having a life that they’re proud of and supports them and they’re in turn able to support others. What are you learning as we go through this transformation?

Progress Over Perfection

Today is Earth Day! I have mixed emotions about Earth Day, I wish we didn’t need to have it for the purpose of raising awareness of the damages that are happening to the world as a result of our actions (conscious or unconscious). I wish instead it could be a day that we all celebrate and get out in nature, planting trees or caring for nature because it’s how we honor the Earth, and not to make up for anything. But we’re a long way off from just being able to celebrate our natural world and not have to really motivate or remind people to care for it. As long as we’re on this earth we will need to be conscious about how we live and the impact we’re making on the world, but I hope that one day we get to the place where it’s natural and normal for us to do good for the earth.

As I was thinking about Earth Day and the planet that we all share I was reading an article about someone who struggles with depression, something that I and many others have experience with. One of the tools that this woman talked about using was the concept of progress over perfection to help stay balanced and not get as overwhelmed or overtaken by her depression. Personally I love the concept of progress over perfection for many aspects of life and creating victories. Perfection has a place, but more often than not working on progress is better than striving for perfection. Why? For one perfection is hard to attain in most cases and not worth the effort. Striving to do an excellent or very good job is usually more than sufficient and putting in the extra effort to strive for perfection usually isn’t worth it.

As much as I dislike that Earth Day still has to be a serious call to action day, I am excited and thankful that we are making progress, more people than ever are aware of the need to take care of the earth and simple things we can do to care for the earth, and we’re consistently seeing that the teamwork and science are helping more species and natural spaces recover and thrive. Persistence is paying off, and with more patience and consistent effort we’ll hopefully see more green spaces, more animals and other species thriving, learn how to live together better, and make more victories for ourselves and our world.

Making Smart Choices

A topic I think about regularly is choice. It’s come up with some early holiday sale commercials and previews in the past few days and will more so as the days get closer to Black Friday and holiday shopping and choosing which holiday events and gatherings to attend, and it’s also something we deal with in many other aspects of our lives like healthcare and even people we’re friends with or in relationships with, not to mention the shopping we do on a regular basis throughout the year.

Everyone from the general populous and average consumer to business owner is blessed to be living in this time because we’ve got so many options available to us. This is such a huge blessing because we’re not stuck shopping or doing business with just one provider, we’ve got options. We don’t have to choose to do business with or shop with or be friends with someone who we feel uncomfortable around or doesn’t understand us or isn’t really offering something we like.  Sometimes we do have to do some work to find the right option for us, but let’s be honest, we’re shopping around and researching normally anyway, so we’re not likely to do much extra work anyway, right?

Of course, that puts a lot of the responsibility on the shoulders of business owners to provide accurate information, timely responses and of course be super customer friendly.  When any one of those aren’t working for us, we’re heading elsewhere and a business has lost a sale.  On a personal level whether talking about employees and bosses or friends and extended family, it’s a responsibility on all our shoulders to treat each other as humans, and with respect and dignity.  We don’t have to be friends with or connected to everyone, so don’t feel bad about making choices that are right for you.

And we can’t deny that there is some responsibility on our shoulders, and that’s to not just go with our first option blindly. We are still responsible for doing our due diligence in researching a company or person we’re connecting with, and making sure they’re a good fit for us. When you’re having a bad gut reaction or not feeling like you’re heard or feeling like there’s missing information and things just aren’t lining up in a way that makes you feel comfortable, walk away.  There’s nothing wrong with going with your first option, but it’s just smart to make sure that the first option is really your best choice.

What smart choices are you making this week?

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?

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