Taking Small Steps Toward Positive Changes

I sometimes wish everyone could have had my childhood experience. My family wasn’t perfect, but there were neither abuses nor infidelities with which to contend. We weren’t rich, but we never had to worry about having a roof over our heads, food to eat, or clean clothes to wear. And I knew I was loved.

I become more aware all the time that not everyone can say the same of their life experience…then, or now.

The Problems Around Us All

It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover, is a book that most recently brought these thoughts to mind. In a story that deals with teen homelessness, domestic violence, and the cycle of continuing abuse, it hit right in the gut. Thankfully, it also dealt with positives such as emotional strength, friendship, resiliency, and questions one might ask oneself for a cycle of abuse to finally end. Still, the topics were broached.

And, it’s not just in this novel that examples of these stories are revealed. Reading the daily newspaper will, sadly, provide far too many instances that are tied to prejudice, homelessness, relationships gone wrong, and abuses of all kinds. Plus, we, as a society, see examples all around us involving words and actions that fall far from what was once considered acceptable behavior.

When I was a teacher and then a principal, I used to tell my students,

“If you wouldn’t say it or do it in front of your grandmother, then stop. We don’t want it said or done here, and, probably, it shouldn’t be said or done anywhere.”

How We Can Start A Chain Reaction

Does that still hold true? I actually question the statement now. There are a lot of grannies and papaws out there saying and doing…stuff! Maybe now is a good time to reevaluate how we speak and act toward others.

  • When you see someone who looks and dresses differently than you, whether due to race, religion, ethnicity, or other criteria, might you make an effort to offer a smile, a kind word, or assistance in some way?
  • Can you think of something you can do to ease the burden of someone less fortunate than you? Are there clothes or furniture you could donate; some organizations will pick up gently used items right from your front door!
  • Does your workplace or religious group have a social action committee that could help homeless teens by offering showers, a washing machine, or a way to organize meal delivery? Or providing the same to any group who needs assistance?
  • Can you take a deep breath, pause, and rethink before saying or doing something that might be hurtful to someone else? How might you be able to do or say things differently?

Sometimes we look at a problem and…we’re overwhelmed. It just seems too big a dilemma to undertake ourselves. I have certainly felt this way myself on more than one occasion. I’m not sure who said it first, but despair is not a strategy.

When a ship changes course by just one degree, the eventual change is huge. If the actions of just one person can make a difference, and it can, just imagine if many of us picked one area, one cause, to place our focus.

We can make a difference. YOU can make a difference.

Just 1 degree. Just one baby step.

If you tell me how you’re trying to make someone’s world a better place, I’ll tell you how I’m trying to do the same.

Let me know.

Dr W


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Photograph by Dan Hamway.






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