By Scott Westerman
In the wake of the horrific tragedy in Orlando this weekend, let’s revisit one of my most requested essays on action. I’ve updated it with some added insights that I hope will be helpful.
When the news about the senseless shootings in Orlando began to inundate Facebook today, a graphic quickly appeared. It was a beautifully created piece of art with the words “More Love. Less Hate” on a black background above a rainbow of hearts, the red one on the far left was broken. At the bottom was the hashtag #PrayForOrlando.
I remembered something that Pope Francis said about that. “Prayer that doesn’t lead to concrete action.. is a fruitless and incomplete prayer.”
In an era where we can instantly respond to anything with a few key strokes and the “send” button, give me the person who will actually do something.
It’s much harder to work on root causes, to personally engage to help solve the real problem. A few will. These are the rare souls who roll up their sleeves and put their own skin in the game. These are the dedicated few who have a different vision and are willing to work .. and keep working to make it real.
Most of us won’t do that.
We will opine about how horrible the situation is, heaping blame on the leader most popularly connected with it. But will we meet them face to face to call them out with logic? Will we offer another solution? Will we work, thoughtfully and diligently to inspire others to join us in action? Will we risk the slings and arrows that are likely to be fired our way the moment we do something visible and consequential? And will we stay the course when the heat is on?
Most of us won’t do that.
Our enemies thrive on apathy. They know that most anger dissipates the moment another distraction appears. They know that fear, uncertainty and doubt will keep the majority from taking a risk. They know that victory comes not always to the strongest or best, but to the person who is willing to keep going after everybody else has given up. They know the odds. And the odds say that you won’t invest enough energy to create meaningful, sustainable change.
You won’t go the distance.
We see this most clearly on election day. If we don’t like things as they are, we may vote to let someone else have a crack at it. The vast majority of us won’t vote at all. And 99.9% of those who do vote, leave it at that. The pendulum may swing from one ideology to another, but nothing really changes.
What’s currently boiling your blood? Hunger? Ignorance? Violence? Poverty? When was the last time you did something beyond a social media rant or a symbolic financial contribution to address it?
The challenges we face are complicated. It may feel like our enemies outnumber us. But just complaining about it is like throwing a dirt clod at a brick wall. You may get a moment’s satisfaction. You may even leave a small mark. But time and the elements quickly wash away all traces that you were ever there.
Sustained action, consistent commitment, is like a rushing river at the canyon’s base. At one time there was no canyon. But the quiet, unending pressure of something that may seem insubstantial, took on an immovable object and totally transformed it, to the point where the loudest voices simply echo off of the canyon walls and fade into obscurity.
And so it is with our love affair within the digital canyons of social media. We can rant all we want, but in a very short time, even the most eloquent words disappear in the downward spiral of the timeline.
To make change we must be the change. Prayer and contemplation are productive first steps. Complex problems require thoughtful consideration. But it means nothing unless it is followed with sustained action.
Meaningful change doesn’t happen in front of a computer screen, on a talk radio show or even in the darkest images of an attack ad. It happens when you turn off the cacophony of mind numbing distraction, focus, leave your comfort zone.. and do something.
I’ll leave you with this question: What actions will you take tomorrow to make the world better than it is today?
Add the Pass It on Podcast to your smart device via iTunes, Google or through my website, ScottWesterman.com. And send me your questions and feedback to scott@Spartaology.com. Have a terrific week. Be bold, be brave, never stop learning.. and pass it on!