Don’t be inert – speak up, act up…

December 22, 2015

“Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.”  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write that Bonhoeffer was a Christian who spoke out about the Nazi atrocities in Germany and lost his life because of it. You can read more about him by clicking here.

There is a line in the marriage ceremony (at least those shown in movies) that goes something like, “If anyone here know why these tow should not be joined in Holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.” In the movies there is more of a likelihood that someone will speak up or listenerthat something will happen. In real life, most seem to follow the rule that “silence is golden”. However, silence in the face of injustice is not golden, it is shameful. Not taking action when your heart tells you to is just as bad.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we live I a time when dash-cams and body-cams and people’s cell phones document many of the egregious events of our day. It is perhaps telling and a mixed blessing that the individuals who choose to document the events did not choose to step in and change those events. We spend an inordinate amount of time after the fact reporting and analyzing the coulda, woudlda, shoulda’s of those tragic events.

Some might look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer and what happened to him because he had the courage to speak out against what Hitler was doing to the Jews in Germany during WWII. I’m sure that a considerable number of other German Christians must have felt the same way, but they chose to remain silent and do almost nothing. There are enough stories about German Christians hiding Jews in their homes (see The Diary of Anne Frank) that we know that some others did take what action that they could or thought that they could do without being detected. They also took great risk and faced certain punishment if caught.

The news of today is full of examples of injustices, shootings, persecution and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, religion or sexual preferences. It is also full of scenes of protest and violence sparked by
many of these events. Seldom reported is the reaction of the general population, those people sitting at home going, “tsk, tsk, that’s terrible”, either to the event itself or to the reactions by those protesting. The “Silent Majority”, as the Republicans like to call them can be counted upon to do nothing and that is sad.

Perhaps our inertia is because of a “them vs. us” mentality tpredjuiceshat has gained foothold in America. “Them”, of course, are all of “those people” who are not like us – the foreigners, people of color, and people with religious practices or lifestyles that we do not understand. “They” almost always belong to one of those groups on the citizenship form that fall under non-white. “They” are different from us and that is scary.

Another thing that is scary is the number of perpetrators of atrocities who claim to have acted in the name of their faith.  It is alright to disagree on topics like abortion or sexual orientation, but it is not OK to go to a family man mad at himselfplanning clinic and shoot people with whom you disagree and say that you did that out of religious conviction. There are few religions that condone killing in the name of the religion. Certainly those who claim to be Christians may peacefully protest those things with which they do not agree or they may pray for the souls of those whom they consider to have wandered away from the teachings of Christ, but they do not harm others in the name of their religious beliefs. Nothing could be further from the teachings of Jesus than those types of actions taken in His name.

Tis the season of giving and not acting on the urge and the need to give is indeed an action – the action of not caring enough. “Gee, I meant to give something”, is not enough. ”I’ll give next time”, won’t help. Even, “I gave at church”, won’t meet the needs that are all around us. While I don’t discourage giving to the big national causes, there are lots of small, local causes that neseerving othersed your help, such as food pantries or homeless shelters. Many are run mostly or entirely by volunteers, so more of your money goes directly to impact the cause and fill the needs. Every one of them, if you check into them, is run by people with a true passion for the help and services that they provide.

One such service that I’ve been supporting here with posts is the Supportive Alternative Living (S.A.L.) organization, which provides services to adult special needs people living in our area. Many were the cute kids that you saw and cheered for in Special Olympics, when they were younger (some many still compete as adults). What happened to them? They grew up and now they live in our community as adults, many with jobs at local businesses. They still need help with day-to-day living; and, even though there is some money available through government programs at various levels, someone has to be there to perforin the services that are needed, from simple things like driving them somewhere to helping them with their bills and finances.

S.A.L. staffers perform those services in our community. S.A.L. used to be funded by Oakland County under the Mental Health budget, but that budget was slashed recently (another tax saving move with unintended consequences), so now they need the help of donations fro the community to be able to continue the program that allows these special needs adults to live independently and not in group homes somewhere. To learn more about S.A.L. and their programs for adult special needs people, go to their web site. You can help by clicking on the Donate button below to make your donation.  If you don’t live in or near Milford, Michigan, donate anyway; I can assure your that this is one of the more worthy causes that you can choose to support this Christmas. Now is the time to act. Give today and have a Merry Christmas knowing that you acted.donate

Advertisements

Three little words – Choice, Chance, Change

February 10, 2015

“Choice, Chance, Change.  You must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything to change.”  (Unknown) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

How often we dream of things we’d like to do, places we’d like to go or people that we’d like to meet; only to sit and watch those dreams evaporate because we don’t make the choice to the take the chances that are needed to make the dreams come true – to man daydreamingchange things. A dream without a plan to accomplish it is just an idol wish – a waste of the time that it took to dream it in the first place. Choice, Chance, Change.

Maybe you have a dream of a better job; but you can’t make the choice to take the chance, so nothing changes. That job is not likely to come looking for you and maybe it even requires some skills or education that you don’t have yet. The choice then might be to enroll in a community college or a businessmenregular college and take the chance of learning what you need to know to change your life so that you are equipped for that new job. Choice, Chance, Change.

Maybe your dream is to meet Mr./Ms. Right and have a lasting and meaningful relationship, perhaps even marriage. There are TV commercials for sites like Match.com that constantly ask why you have not signed up for their service; why you have not made the choice to take the chance that this site and their service will change you r life? Whether you believe in
handshakethose sites and services are not the real questions that they are asking you are about what overt actions you have taken or are willing to take to realize your dream. Choice, Chance, Change.

Many people have the desire to travel, or so they say; yet too many never get away. They claim that they are too busy with work or with family to be able to travel and see the things that they dream of seeing. Many say that they will travel when they get older; while the elderly often lament that they wish they had travels when they were younger and could still participate in the many activities that might be available (there are few geriatric para-sailers). Taking time off and getting away to relax and rejuvenate is an important aspect of our health and most people will never be in better financial positions than they are when they are younger and working. So why don’t we go? Choice, Chance, Change.

At some point in many people’s life they start thinking about less about themselves and more about others; what could they do to help someone else. Sometimes that is forced upon us as we assume caregiver roles; but, many times it is just because we have finallytutoring become at peace with our own life and started to see more of the need around us. Perhaps we have had some cathartic religious moment or maybe we just finally looked up from our own feet and noticed that not everyone has been as fortunate as we have been. Whatever the reason, many people eventually turn to philanthropy and service to others, no matter how small the gifts or efforts. Many look back as ask why they haven’t been dog this all along. Choice, Chance, Change.

So where are you with your dreams? Have you made the choices that you needed to and taken the chances that are required to make the changes that were necessary; or, are you still sitting there dreaming about things? If you at least make the choice to try, then you can at least move on to the planning stage. That will expose the risks (chances) that you must deal with and give you a road map of the changes that are rewardrequired.

An interesting by-product of getting started is that by making choices and taking chances it will change how people perceive you – you will become a doer and not just a watcher; you move from being a fan to being a player and that will make you a whole lot more interesting person to know. You will also find that you have a different and improved self-image. No more will “coulda, woulda, shoulda” define your life; but, rather, “been there, done that and now I’m movin’ on”, will be what you and others see. Choice, Chance, Change.

What’s your choice today?


Get off your duff…

January 28, 2013

“It’s easy to sit up and take notice. What is difficult is getting up and taking action.” (Honore de Balzac) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. As is often the case with Jack’s blog the focus is on doing and not just recognizing. If you see something that is wrong – do something about it. Jack went on to also share a saying that he says he has posted next to his computer – “Get Tough…Get Off Your Duff.” Interestingly, Jack opined that the saying that he has posted probably came from some sales pep talk.

Balzac’s advice is easier to read and think about than to act upon, since that would involve getting up and taking action. I suspect that the reason is that when we take notice of something, we start imagining how big the problem/issue may be and how difficult it would be to solve the whole problem and maybe not just the immediate problem that is front of us. If we see a hungry person on the street, we ought not worry about solving world hunger, but about helping that person get something to eat.beggar

The other reaction that can lead to inaction is the reflex to say to yourself, “There but by the Grace of God go I.” The next step in that avoidance reaction is to rush away from the problem, thanking God for your good fortune. Perhaps the reaction should be to thank God for placing you in a position to be able to help.

Another resolution for many is to notice, but also to ignore. It is very easy to rationalize not taking action by convincing yourself that you are too busy with other important things to take action on what you have just noticed that also needs attention. People who do that are often plagued by long bouts of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” later.

man textingOur lives can become such a frenzy of activities that we become convinced that we are too busy to take on anything else; yet, if one really reflected upon the content of that daily frenzy, there are probably lots of things that could easily be dropped to take on a more important task. We bury our heads in the sands of busy work and trivial, time-wasting pursuits like texting and Facebooking to share what we had for breakfast with the world. Make no mistake about it; texting “OMG, U won’t believe what I just saw” is not taking action. Perhaps a signing off with a text, “OMG, gotta go, someone needs my help” is a start in the right direction.

So, whether you apply Balzac’s advice to your daily work life or to a life dedicated to service to others, the important thing is to combine Jack’s little saying with Balzac’s second sentence thought – get off your duff and take action.