Newsletter: Lost in Thought?

by Sharon Gavin

"I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed." ~ George Carlin

The American Revolution was not started by Jefferson, Franklin, Madison or any of their ilk. Yes, they were influential in their writings and speeches, but the regular farmers and tradespeople facing an oppressive governing system in which they felt they had little or no voice fomented the idea of the revolution and took the first actions.

Susan B. Anthony and Cady Stanton created the National Woman Suffrage Association, but neither was the first U.S. woman to cast a (then illegal) vote; that was Marilla Ricker.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great civil rights leader and is still an inspiration to millions of people, but he was not the one who refused to give up his seat on the bus that December in 1955; that was Rosa Parks.

These ordinary citizens had their own ideas about what was right and just; they wrote letters, cast votes, refused to give in to discriminatory practices…and through these seemingly small acts they changed history.

They did not have a lot of money or power; but money and power are not about change, they’re about maintaining the status quo. Change begins with ideas. It begins with seeing a situation (high drop-out rates, dirty streams, hungry children, mistreated animals, etc.), thinking about how it could be better, and asking questions. What would it take to change this situation? Who would need to be involved? Where can I talk with people about this idea? What other ideas might they have? Then ideas turn in to actions, and through these actions things change.

Sure, it’s easy to get lost in Lost and, with our current economic state, how much more delightful is it to dream of being on an island where the biggest worries are supernatural occurrences, monsters, and The Others? But this passivity and sense of helplessness do us, as a nation, a tremendous disservice. We need active and engaged citizens and communities to make the changes necessary for our country to move forward. We need to write our own letters, cast our votes, refuse to give in.

It can start small; change usually does. But then it grows, and so do we.

Posted on February 11, 2010 in Volunteering.