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Commentary: You Can Make A Difference

We are living in scary and hopeful times. Some people in high powered political and financial positions are making self-serving decisions with harmful consequences to society and the environment. The response is strong as those who hold lesser power are galvanizing and exerting “together” power. We are seeing this play out with a growth in grass-roots movements. These include the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and the formation of a whole host of local and national activist groups.

 

 

The effectiveness of this momentum, reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s classic book – Horton Hears A Who. In the book, Horton the Elephant becomes the protector of Whoville.  It is  a speck of dust that is home to the Whos. Horton is jeered by his friends who don’t believe him, when he tells them that Whos live there. The friends forcibly take the speck away from him, and threaten to destroy it. Yet, he remains steadfast to the cause. He implores the mayor and residents of Whoville to speak out, so his friends can hear them and believe that the Whos exist. The Whos come out in droves and make noise. It is not until the very small yoyo playing JoJo joins the group, that Horton’s friends finally are able to hear the Whos. This stops them from destroying Whoville.

It is in a similar way that the current movements are working. We are seeing a rise in civic and social engagement. This engagement is inspiring new voices to join in and demand a balance of power that serves the greater good.

A great example of the power of this grassroots movement is illustrated by the recent Alabama elections. It was through the dedicated efforts of many volunteers that the election shifted in favor of Doug Jones, a blue candidate in a traditionally red state.

As a witness to all of these changes, I am inspired to share some insights about how to keep the momentum going, as you participate in causes that are aligned with your values.

First, be clear on your mission. Instead of letting opinions divide you, connect around what matters most. For example, if education is your cause, have conversations with an open mind. Invite a multitude of voices. Be curious about different philosophies. Learn about the backgrounds and needs of different children and their learning styles. Avoid in-fighting. Let the diversity of experiences and knowledge of your group members lead to a robust solution.

Second, form a diverse group. Invite everyone who is interested in your cause to the table. As you bring your gifts to the table, take advantage of the broad range of backgrounds, interests, talents, skills, and resources that your group members have. It has been shown that diversity leads to creativity and effectiveness.

Third, make “SMART” plans that will set you up for success. A “SMART” plan is specific, measurable, achievable, related to the goal, and time bound. SMART plans make seemingly insurmountable tasks doable. Every journey begins with one step.

In sum, together we can make a difference and bring back balance in the distribution of power by connecting with others who share our values. We can create diverse alliances and commit to small steps aimed at achieving our bigger goals.

I encourage you to hold hope and work with others towards building the future you want for yourself, those you care about, and this planet.  Be clear about your values and mission. Take inspiration from past and current movements. Keep on doing your part and when you are discouraged by remembering how far we have come as a result of the committed actions of people working together.

Don’t underestimate your ability to make a difference.  You can be the tipping point, just like small JoJo was when he came out and played his yoyo and helped rescue Whoville in the book Horton Hears a Who.

History has taught us together we can do what we cannot do alone. I wish for you to feel the power of clear, committed, diverse and realistic togetherness, as you embark on or continue with your civic and social engagement.

 

Jessica Dancingheart is a personal and organizational consultant. Find out more at openingtopossibilities.com.