Do you want to leave the world better than you found it? For my spirituality group, the answer is “yes.” We want to make a difference. How does one move beyond wishful thinking? A vision without a plan is a dream. So, this winter and spring, we are going through a process of discernment and planning using a Just Faith Engaging Change curriculum. If you have any inclination for initiating or tweaking your approach, this is our process.
Step 1: Identify the issue that has passion for you. What calls to you? There’s plenty to choose from. Dig deep: what breaks your heart, pisses you off, or makes you come alive? Is there a lie that you want to expose? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Step 2: You don’t have to explain why this interests you. Your reason is your business; this is your issue. But, you do need to nail down the what. What will you focus on? A current exhibit at the National Geographic museum features primatologist Jane Goodall, while Silent Sky presents astronomer Henrietta Leavitt’s research, both examples of people who followed their passions. Goodall worked with chimps and Leavitt explored the stars — efforts that brought them joy. Their substantial impact on the world has been a collateral bonus.
Step 3: You probably have many interests or concerns, but what can you actually do something about? Given the constraint of time, what draws your attention and how will you spend your energy? Focus on what you can control. Consider the words of the Serenity Prayer. Focus on what you can change or do, which requires identifying and setting aside things that are beyond your control.
Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. Jane Goodall
Step 4: You may prefer to take individual actions. If your passion is the environment, perhaps you focus your efforts on recycling, a plant-based diet, or taking transit. You may promote sustainable resource stewardship and send donations to environmental organizations. Using your time, talents, and treasure on behalf of an area that matters to you allows you to do what you can with what you’ve got. For some people, that’s how they do their part. The next steps are for those who want to take change to the next level.
“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” ― former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (1924 – 2005)
Step 5: If you want to tell people about your concerns or get more people involved, two tools symbolize magnifying your message: a whistle and a megaphone. A whistle alerts people to a problem. Being a whistle-blower, alleging illegal or unethical activity, takes courage. In addition to making noise, you need to think about what you want people to know: a megaphone helps amplify your message. Leverage your relationships and networks to increase your impact.
Step 6: The WHAT — your focus — is different than HOW. How can you reach more people? Certain activities will alert others to your cause. You might organize a workshop to educate, write letters to a lawmaker or newspaper, or participate in a witness event, such as a march or vigil. You might collaborate with an organization to ensure a lasting solution. Your goal is to inform and mobilize, inspire and empower, in order to create a better world.
Step 7: Go for momentum, not just motion. Vision ensures that you are headed in the right direction and consistent efforts will energize the changes you desire.
Snowflakes working together can become an avalanche.
© Joan S Grey, 7 FEB 2020
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