In recent weeks and months, our country and our world has undergone significant turmoil.
In the U.S. alone, social unrest has repeatedly erupted in violence, same-sex marriage has been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be legal throughout all 50 States, and the Supreme Court has upheld key provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act.
Beyond our borders, the world is witness to changing relationships between the U.S. and countries such as Cuba, Israel, and Iran, and in just the past few days we have witnessed an historical shift in the arena of nuclear armament.
These and other significant political and cultural events have caused tongues to wag unceasingly and fingers to fly frantically across computer keyboards and tablet screens as we all race to share our elation, fear, anger, disappointment, relief . . . . whatever emotion it is that the individual event has sparked within us.
We're all entitled to those emotions, of course. What we are not entitled to is point the finger of blame at "them" when we are disappointed, distressed, or even angry at the latest decision.
One common scapegoat is our leaders -- elected and otherwise. Those unhappy with their vote or decision declare they have made a terrible mistake, that what they have done is wrong, insanely-so according to their detractors. Facebook posts and Twitter tweets rail against the politicians, and the unhappy ones heap 100% of the blame on those politicians.
Similarly, blame is placed on mainstream media sources (MSM). Those displeased by some action reiterate the oft-heard claim that MSM is biased and presents a very skewed vision of what is happening; others point out that MSM outlets completely ignore any or most stories that don't fit their agenda.
I'm certainly not going to say that elected and appointed officials and the mainstream media are perfect, or even that they're doing a stellar job. They do deserve some blame -- and some credit, if you're happy with a key decision -- for events that occur. After all, politicians make decisions, and the media is in the job of informing, which naturally leads to influencing.
What I will say is that much of the blame also lies on those of us who are unhappy with the current state of affairs but who have done and continue to do nothing more than talk and type about it!
Grab a pen and pencil. Now, jot down a conservative estimate of the amount of time you have spent in the past week complaining (let's call it what it is, okay) about any and all current events. Now, reflect back and jot down a liberal estimate of the amount of time you have spent in one of the following activities in regard to those same current events: prayer, educating yourself through credible and reliable sources (Facebook does not count -- sorry), composing letters to the appropriate elected official(s), and contacting mainstream media outlets to share your concerns (if you have any) about possible bias, misinformation, or lack of information.
What did you come up with? Have you been a good steward of your time and resources in affecting positive change in your world? Or have you merely stirred the pot, adding nothing constructive to the mix?
Here's my challenge. Commit to spending at least as much time proactively as you spend reactively.
Commit to one day at a time if that's all you're prepared to do. Just today, for the next 24 hours, stop talking and start doing.
What should you do? Here are some suggestions:
1. Pray. Every step of the way.
2. Create a contact list of your elected officials and contact people within the mainstream media. These might included your Congressmen, station managers, etc. Include their phone numbers, email addresses, and snail mail addresses. This information can easily be found on the internet.
3. If you are on Facebook and Twitter, begin following those people. Listen to what they are saying so you are prepared to respond in an appropriate and respectful manner.
4. EDUCATE yourself on the issues that interest you most, that you feel most impact the world in the most significant ways. Consult a variety of credible and reliable sources, even those you typically disagree with. Learn any necessary background information and stay on top of current developments.
5. Pay attention to obvious bias, misinformation, and lack of appropriate coverage, and contact mainstream media outlets to let them know you are concerned about their coverage. You might even want to contact the advertisers who support outlets that are irresponsible or unethical.
6. Pay attention to when decisions -- even those that seem minor at the time -- are being contemplated and note who will be involved in making those decisions.
7. Contact those decision-makers. Call their offices and send emails and write letters. You might want to create (and save) a general template for both email and snail mail correspondence; that will save time and effort.
8. Encourage those around you to follow these same steps. Be careful, of course, not to offend others or to approach them in an off-putting way.
9. Don't give up!
I know that doing these things will take time. But if you're not complaining on Facebook or around the proverbial water cooler you will have some newly-freed time at your disposal!
You'll also be going against the popular "gripe like crazy but don't do a thing" mindset so prevalent today. Family members and friends may even talk about you behind your back, noting how radical you've become.
That's okay. Difference-makers are always talked about and often misunderstood.
Be one of those people who makes a positive difference, who is willing to invest of themselves and of their time for the betterment of the world in which they live.
Come on . . . I dare you!
I hope you'll share your thoughts and experiences as a positive difference-maker on my Facebook page or via a comment below. Join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pattimiinch58. You can also follow me on Twitter -- @PattiMiinch