I can’t help but share a little inspiration today. One morning this week didn’t start out as being inspired. I was tired from the start, and I had no motivation to take care of the necessities. But, sometimes in life a moment comes along that snaps you right out of your funk. On this morning, I was reminded of why I do the things I do. I was reminded that I need to be who I really am and not care too much about what other people think about it.
It all started out as a mistake. Every weekday, I run an important errand. I knew I didn’t have to run this errand today, but I completely forgot about that fact. I showered, dressed, and left the house anyway. It must have been fate. On my way, I spotted this guy. His name is Steve.
Normally, I don’t chase down strangers I see walking down the street. On this occasion, I couldn’t help myself. I had to meet him. I had to know what motivated him to take a stand and be an activist.
In a short conversation, I found out he has a 4-year-old son. Steve says that he often goes out on his walks with the young boy on his shoulders. Steve wants the same thing I do. We both want our sons to grow up in a better world. We want them to know that not only is it okay to stand up for what you believe in, but that if you believe in something, you absolutely should take a stand. Too many people are content to sit idly and watch things happen. When it comes to our children, they have to be taught that things just don’t happen by themselves. We as citizens make things happen. The American dream isn’t to be handed a house with a white picket fence and live in a Utopian society. No, we the people decide where and how we want to live, and to a degree, we do sort of make our own rules as a community. For example, one local town went almost completely tobacco free much to the chagrin of the local bar owners. Enough people stood up in a town council meeting speaking for their cause, that they made it happen. Now one must smoke at least 30 yards away from any building in which a member of the public might patronize. The whole no smoking movement of this town probably started with one non-smoking person who decided to be an activist for his or her cause.
Now, Steve isn’t asking us to act on his opinions on matters he is concerned about. No, his cause is to remind us that we need to act on what we feel strongly about ourselves. Do you care about what happens to our wounded veterans? Make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. Are you concerned about the homeless population in your area? Donate blankets to a shelter or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Do you feel strongly about our children’s education? Go to a school board meeting. What about health care or foreign policy? Write your congressman. The point is, don’t just sit there wondering what can be done. Get up, and do something about it!
But, Steve’s sign holds a deeper meaning. It’s fine to be an activist for something you care about, but it’s not okay to be a hypocrite. Do you know that saying about throwing stones at glass houses? I’m an advocate for good nutrition, but I can hardly preach about school lunches if the meals served in my house are devoid of variety and nutrition. The best way to make a difference is to start with ourselves. How about the People’s Climate March in September of 2014 in New York City? Between 200,000 and 400,000 people showed up in Manhattan to give voice to their environmental causes, but they left tons of trash behind on the city streets. On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked to talk to groups of children about environment, and this is the first example I show in my presentations. The children need to know that changing things for the better has to start with themselves. Check out the original article that drew my attention and wrath here:
Now, the idea to start this blog was originally about food and nutrition. In this, I am an activist. However, if you read back, you won’t find a single recipe. The fact is, I can hardly brag about my cooking skills and culinary tastes when there are too many things going on around me that are far more important. Like Steve, I can’t just ignore something when I can possibly make a difference. He’s walking down sidewalks with his message to get the word out that it takes all of us to make a community a good one. It takes all of us to make our neighborhoods a pleasant and safe place to live in. If we want change, we all have to get off our duff and make it happen.
So, where do you start? Steve says we must first look at ourselves, and I couldn’t agree more. I encourage you to look in the mirror today and ask yourself what your cause is. Have you started making a difference in your own household or are you a hypocrite? Take a good look and be honest with yourself. What do you care about? What have you done about it lately? Have you complained about something but then did it yourself anyway because “majority rules”? I have. It’s killing me inside ever so slowly.
Thank you, Steve, for doing what you do. I’ve been sitting on something important for a while, and you have inspired me to take a long hard look at myself in the mirror. The realization that I have been doing more harm than good in doing nothing hit me like a brick. I have been trying to get people to stand up and take notice, but I’ve been sitting idly by and doing nothing about a very important matter. It’s time to stop trying to get other people to do something about it, because if I’m not a part of the solution, I’m most definitely part of the problem. I must take matters into my own hands and start the process of fixing it myself. Maybe then, the people I care very much about will follow me and help with my efforts. If they don’t, so be it. At least I know in my heart that I have done the right thing. I must lead by example. I must teach my son to follow his heart and do the right things, but first start with himself. That, my friends, is how you really make a difference.
So, wish me luck. What I have to do now could make me lose quite a bit, but it has to be done. I’ve paused and thought about it for long enough. Steve, if you’re out there, I wish you the best. Keep doing what you do. You do make a difference, and you inspired me to “Be the change” today.