Somebody ought to do something about that…

March 20, 2021

How many times have you heard someone say that (today’s post title) or maybe even said it yourself? When we encounter things that we think are wrong, what is our reaction? When we do something that is wrong, how do we react? Do we look for somebody else to blame or to take action to correct the problem? I saw today’s quote on-line somewhere and it resonated with me – “If it is to be, it is up to me.” ― William H. Johnsen

I often look up the authors of the quotes that I use to see what else they might have been quoted as saying. Interestingly this is the only quote ever attributed to William H. Johnson. According to Wikipedia – William Henry Johnson (1901 – 1970) was an American painter. Born in Florence, South Carolina, he became a student at the National Academy of Design in New York City, working with Charles Webster Hawthorne. He later lived and worked in France, where he was exposed to modernism. I was initially amused by the fact that this was his only quote; but then I realized that he has one more quote that is used all over the world than I do or that most of us will ever have.

Looking at Johnsen’s one quote in depth, it has much more meaning that it initially appears to contain. On its surface, it is a simple and straightforward call to action, sort of like Nike’s Just do it. In reality, it begs the issue of one’s view of the world and events that are happening all around us. It is very easy to become hardened and almost impervious to the news of the day – the injustices to, and on-gong hardships of, those faces that we see on the nightly newscasts. There is also that tendency to look for someone else to take up the responsibility to do something to right those wrongs – the somebody ought to do something reaction.  “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

We know that we cannot solve all of the problems of the world and we can see that some of the issues that need to be addressed require action from those who are well above our pay-grade; however, that should not detour us from taking some action. If we cannot make the big decisions ourselves, we can at least let those who can know how we feel about it. We can call or write our representatives in Congress and express our support for actions to correct the problems. We might be able to donate money or time to organizations that are working on the solutions to hunger or homelessness or other ills. We can take Johnsen’s quote to heart and do something. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

It is important (and Johnsen’s quote rally points to this) that you not allow yourself to become numb or complacent about things that are wrong or injustices that you see every day. Prejudices – racism, homophobia and misogyny – continue to exist only because we allow them to exist. If they are to stop, where do you think that begins? Johnsen had the answer. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

For Christians, Johnsen’s quote is particularly true. Jesus said that we must take up the cross to follow him. Taking up that cross is not just about bearing the pains of life, but about taking an active role in making things better for all. Taking up the cross is the ultimate expression of Johnsen’s s quote, because you are saying it that moment – “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Yes, somebody ought to do something about that and that somebody is you. Take up your cross and repeat after me – “If it is to be, it is up to me.”


Three little words that can change your life… Just do it! (5 of ?)

March 25, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Nike-Logo1Nike has ridden those three little words to fame and fortune and I used them in Hint 7 of Eleven Hints for Life. So what was the hint – don’t get to the end of life with a bunch of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s on your bucket list; in fact don’t get there with a bucket list; just do it!

If you write those three little words down and post them somewhere where you can see them at the start of each day maybe that will allow you to start each day on the right foot. We all tend to let caution and fears stop us from taking chances in life. Sometimes that is good and prevents us from doing things that would be dangerous. Many times it stops us from doing things that we think could be dangerous that really aren’t. For too many people that leads to a timid life of safe disappointment. Just do it!

anxiousIf I don’t put out my hand to welcome a stranger have I stayed safe from some unknown consequence or just lost the opportunity to make a friend? If I don’t go to the ball game in downtown Detroit because I’m afraid to go there, have I been prudent or foolishly passed up the opportunity to have a good time. If I don’t raise my hand to volunteer for a good cause, is it because I’m really too busy or just that I’m too afraid to get involved? How much of life do I let pass me by because I am afraid of disappointment or just letting the fear of the unknown rule my life. Just do it!

Have you ever noticed how happy those people seem who just do it, how much fun they’re having that you are not, because you pulled back in fear from some new afraid turtleadventure? You can be happy, too. You can experience new things, have new adventures and make new friends. You just need to free yourself from the chains of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Just do it.

Probably the biggest thing that people who are immobilized by FUD have to overcome is their own vivid imaginations. We have an amazing ability to imagine worst case scenarios in life. Every dark alley that we must pass by becomes filled with pimps and muggers. Every long walk from the parking lot to the event venue is a gauntlet full of dangers and hidden threats. Soon the world closes in on us and even the places we used to feel safe are now suspect. Taken to the extreme, some people develop agoraphobia and are trapped like prisoners in their own homes. Don’t let your imagination rule your life – Just do it!

For most of us things don’t get to that point of agoraphobia ; however, we do let prejudices and false information limit us. We just don’t do it, because we feel safer. We try to convince ourselves that it was the prudent thing to do, not to go, not to join the group that is having fun, not to reach out and belong. But those decisions ring hollow. We see that everyone who went made it back and they all seemed to have fun. Dammed, why didn’t I go, too? Just do it!

female climberSo, there’s nothing wrong with doing a quick intelligence check on whatever it is that you’ve been invited to do; just don’t let that quick check get bogged down by the baggage of prejudice and fear of the unknown. Don’t do things that are illegal or really stupid (you can watch those things in the Jackass movies). Remember, everything is unknown until you’ve done it once. Just do it!