Just One Person Can Make a Difference

by | July 12, 2017 | Empathy | 0 comments

“I’m just one person.  What difference can I make?”  How many of us have said these words to ourselves?  And have we spoken them out loud?

We don’t talk about this.  Not really.  These are words thought but rarely spoken.  We don’t talk about this because we take it for granted.  Somewhere along the way, someone convinced you that you’re powerless.  Who was that person?  Here’s a protip: question your preconceptions.

As we grow up, our minds are sculpted by the people and events that touch our lives.  These things shape what will become our worldview.

Most of the time, this serves us pretty well.  It becomes our ethical compass, our individual and shared values, the makeup of societies.  We develop ideas about religion, about government, about races, about genders, about family dynamics.

We rarely question them as we age.  It’s when we don’t question them that they stop being valuable.  It becomes more akin to taking little sips of poison all throughout life.

What we are taught as children has the greatest impact on who we will become as adults, and in turn, what we will teach our children.  This is why it takes generations to move the needle forward.  We take so much of what we believe we know for granted.  And we pass it on.

Much of what we are taught is false and self-defeating.  It makes sense that we should deeply examine these things throughout adulthood.  We don’t learn these things by mistake.  They serve someone, something.  Our lives are littered with recurring and reinforcing ideas.

Women are taught they need men, that they are not as good as men, that they are somehow lesser, and powerless.  See this post from my friend, @PricklyPam.

LGBTQ+ youth are taught they’re mistakes, that perhaps it would have been best if they had simply been aborted.

Men are taught they cannot cry, cannot feel, and most definitely cannot be vulnerable.  Such things are weakness and must be repressed.

PoC especially are taught they have no power, they’ll never have any power, and that seeking power will likely end in a hail of bullets.

I cannot overstate the importance of this.  They are deeply felt and internalized, rarely examined without considerable effort of others.  Because they are so pervasive and prevalent in our daily lives, the only effective way to counter them is by developing a new mindset.

In that mindset, when a thought presents itself, examine it.  Do I still believe this?  Why do I believe this?  It’s an art you can learn.

With that knowledge in hand, I’d like to ask you to do that with me right now.  Do you still believe you cannot make a difference?  Who taught you this?  Why can’t you make a difference?  I hope your answer is: “Society taught me this.  It’s false.  It’s self-defeating.”

As much as I would want to, I cannot convince you that you are powerful and that you can make a difference.  That must come from within.  But here’s another protip: if you must ask this question, ask it out loud.  Ask us.

Collectively, we have many answers to share with you.


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