By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO –
Making a difference over time is what, more often than not, yield lasting results and value. It is something to consider an issue or occasion and just see what it means for our lives now. It is quite another to examine those same issues and events, and their possibly long-term effect on our own lives, the lives of our kids, our grandchildren tomorrow and past. We’re frequently consumed with living in the second where a brief attention span and immediate gratification rule the day.
While there’s value in taking a look at events from today’s view, the more we discover, the more we recognize that comprehensive, far-reaching and long-term changes and conditions grow with time. The seeds in many cases are planted long before we see the type of fruit, great or poor, that define the crop. Making a difference over time requires dedication and commitment.
History is replete with men and women who took the longer perspective and worked for long-term change. Mother Theresa understood that she was not able to rid Calcutta of the ravages of the extreme states of poverty on its most vulnerable citizens in a week, a couple of months or several years. Mother Theresa spent a sacrificial life attempting to break its interminable grasp.
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took up the fight to rid this nation of racial discrimination, he understood he wasn’t dealing with a condition that occurred over night. Dr. King also understood that actual change would not occur immediately.
But people like Mother Teresa and Dr. King realized that the more they saw and heard, the more they could not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. They understood the significance of the times in their lives as we must become intensely conscious of the times of our own.
Now is the time to inquire what has changed significantly (for better or worse) over the last 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years in your community/environment? Irrespective of what important changes happened, or failed to happen, we must inquire Why?
It is similar to raising kids. What our children finally become is due to the type of experience and nurturing they encounter and experience as time passes. But that does not indicate that occasionally we do not encounter impulsive, temporal, life-changing events that forever change our views about life, even life itself. Usually, those are the exception, not the rule. Making a difference over time requires the longer view
Each of us needs to make an effort to often find a spot, whether it’s in the conclusion of a day, or sitting or driving on a Sunday afternoon, to ponder the long term consequences of what’s happening around us.
Moreover, what can we expect as time goes on? And, what can we do about it, in the short term and long term? What are our goals to produce long-term change?
Every now and then, we get a clear and awful reminder of how far we have not come when we see a racist banner amid a protest, hear an ethnic slur, or a derogatory comment. A stereotypical picture colours as well as dictates exactly how we perceive or connect to a stranger, where we sit, where we go to eat, and where we take in a show.
Then there are the less apparent offenses on mankind that are with us every day through some sort or a different disenfranchisement as a result of the difference between economic classes, the healthy and not healthy, the educated as well as the uneducated.
Frequently, the reminders get somewhat worse. Some one is beaten or killed because of how they look, their sexual orientation, or their religious beliefs.
Daily, someone is denied a job, a house, a loan, a seat in a classroom, as well as a meal.
Therefore, the true question is, will we be continue to let such states define the times of our own lives and we sit silently by?
Would leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony, and Harvey Milk sit quietly by, as these horrific incidents and conditions continue? Making a difference over time requires courage.
Feature photo: toddpylant.com
Edited and Reprinted with Permission of USAonRace.com