Yes, Of Course, I’m Mad, Too!…HOWEVER…
Sure, like Howard in “Network,” I get “mad as hell.” And I remember many of my friend Kerry Awn’s standup rants at Esther’s Follies, when he did his “What Makes Me Mad” routines. I generally can check my tendency toward extreme behaviors. I don’t stay angry or mad for any length of time, but instead am ashamed or disappointed. At my behavior, or that of others, by fault or default. My family and friends, our government or other institutions. It’s hard not to react and respond. Incivility, confrontational politics, cowardly “leadership,” institutional decline, increasing hopelessness and dysfunction. They all add to our stress level, sap our emotional and physical energy, and influence our behaviors toward ourselves and others.
Life’s Too Short! I’m Considering Things That Matter…Where I Can Matter…
My last Mosey Commentary focused on the concept of “Civic Heroes.” My premise was that we spend too much time allowing ourselves to be seduced by the Washington “buzz.” We expend too much psychic energy, waste too much of our limited time, and add unnecessary levels of stress. If we re-orient our focus to the local scene, we’ll moderate those extremes, invest our civic selves more efficiently, and experience the personal rewards of more effective community service. Everyone Wins!
We Can’t/Shouldn’t Ignore The 800 lb. Campaign Gorilla
While I’m encouraging a more local civic engagement focus, we must keep at least one eye and ear on the 2020 campaigns, the results of which will be critical to this Country’s general welfare. Trump and his gang of incompetents must be replaced with a more experienced cadre of thoughtful, compassionate officials who’ll be dedicated to the public interest. That’s where we come in. We must be informed and observant of the candidates’ credentials and performances so we can properly vett their potential to lead. That’s the responsibility of We The People. Many of us fell asleep at the switch and allowed/enabled this governance debacle to occur. We’ve now got the chance to right the ship. VOTE!… and rise to our occasion.
So, Why Am I encouraged?
While we’re bombarded with constant “Breaking News” on all sorts of generally insignificant topics, the pundits attempt to keep us fearful, distrustful and feeling vulnerable. And many politicos step into that vacuum of reason to exploit those fears. However, we can shift our focus to our own community and neighborhood, and get a much healthier and more realistic perspective…of where we are and who we are.
I’m encouraged as I continue to learn of a diverse range of community volunteers and non-profits of every size and shape that are determined to make a positive difference. And it excites me to see a big increase in collaborative partnerships, as organizations with similar or complementary missions realize the benefits of collaborative leverage.
We can be buoyed by the knowledge that others of our fellow citizens share many of our concerns, and are ready to join with us to make a significant contribution. On the local front, we are better aware of our challenges, can more readily consider our options…and ACT. And we can more easily identify the organizations and individuals toiling in those vineyards of many themes. Our potential for making an impact at the local level is substantial, no matter our resources. And each incremental gain from our efforts enhances our community’s quality of life.
What Do We Do This Summer?
—Do Your Personal Civic Audit…Review your community affiliations, non-profits, programs, etc. Are you enjoying the affiliation? Are you making a difference? Would you like to do more? Is your passion elsewhere? Always include any such audit with an overlay question of, “Am I effective, or just busy?”
—Consider Other Community Service Possibilities…If your “civic audit” resulted in a gap in your calendar or your heart, consider a Summer reset. Visit with friends, neighbors, non-profit reps, faith-based reps, teachers/principals about their programs, goals and volunteer needs. See if you find new options that excite you. NOTE: DON’T ask for/accept a Board position until you’ve done some committee/project work to affirm that this is the right match for you. The initial interviews and courtship can be seductive in the short term, but only time and experience will determine if you’ve found a good match.
—Our Family Reunion Opportunities…Our communities need our constructive civic engagement. No matter their size. My small West Texas hometown has many opportunities for committed volunteers, as does Austin. It’s a matter of scale. Compassion, creative thinking and commitment translate everywhere. Many of us will have family reunions this summer. That’s a great place to discuss, encourage, model public service, as a healthier way to avoid more highly-charged political debates. Ask who’s doing what, where and see what you can learn from the discussion. And see if you can’t prompt some healthy exchanges about the importance of civic engagement. Make sure your family members are registered and preparing to vote.
My Attitude Makes A Difference…To Me and Others
I’m trying to shift away from an obsession with Washington politics. It’s not that I’m disinterested. I’ve just come to realize that I need to relieve my stress level by focusing on local community needs, working where I can make a difference, and leaving the more global political/social media arguments to the many who thrive in that arena, or think they do. I’m most assuredly interested in the campaigns, debates and other opportunities for us to enable more responsible leadership. I need to be well-informed, support the resulting best candidates and VOTE. In all cases, I need to model compassion and kindness, promote civility and encourage my family and friends to join me in shining our lights wherever we are to build healthier communities. A kinder and gentler way to achieve public service. LET’S MOSEY!