Monday, December 30, 2013

You Are Society (AKA Change Begins With The Person In The Mirror)

2013 is quickly drawing to a close while 2014 lurks just around the corner waiting to pounce on us in some New Year's ambush.  It's freaky how fast time flies this time of year.  (Wasn't it just Halloween a few days ago?)  Time to write out those New Year's resolutions.

Personally, I hate them (New Year's resolutions, that is).  The term screams of failure.  Every January tens of thousands of people make promises to themselves to lose weight or save money or not yell at their kids only to fall flat on their faces in failure and defeat about the time March rolls around (if they are lucky enough to make it THAT long).  Something about the New Year's resolution just begs to be broken. Statistically speaking you have about an 8% chance of actually achieving resolution success (Which also means, you have a 92% chance of failing, but I like to think positively.  It's one of my New Year's resolutions.) It's super easy to set inspiring and life-changing goals just as the New Year starts with all kinds of shiny promise and potential...but it's a lot harder to not fall back into our old ways of thinking and acting just as the newness fades and the tarnish of our lackluster "normal" lives catch up with us.

Does this mean we shouldn't set goals for change as the new year rolls through?  Of course not.  We absolutely should set goals and lay out our dreams for change and self-improvement every single chance we get...because...well change and self-improvement are worthwhile endeavors.

Too often we sit back and bemoan all of the ills of society.  We'll blame society for everything from our expanding waistlines to our frivolous spending habits.  "Society" becomes this big vague mass of evil responsible for all the ills of the world.  It's just because we, as individuals shudder and balk at taking any personal responsibility for our shortcomings (and that's probably Society's fault, too).

And I am thoroughly guilty of shaking my fist in Society's general direction on a regular basis (what self-respecting blogger who specializes in social commentary wouldn't?).  But here's the big problem...WE are society, each solitary individual one of Joe...your nosy neighbor down the street.  We are each a part of this big nebulous amorphous thing we generically refer to as Society.  Society by it's definition is nothing more than a collection of individuals.  And as much as any individual might resist the major influences and authorities of organized civilization, nothing short of sporting a loin cloth and heading into the mountains Bear Grylls style truly removes you from it (and even then it would have a lasting influence on you).

So you can sit around like a couch potato casting blame on Society for all the evils in the world around you, but it doesn't absolve you of responsibility. Society is made up of millions of individual human beings just like you and me.  If we waste all of our energy cursing the world at large, nothing changes. To make society better we must first change ourselves. (Start with the guy looking back at you from your bathroom mirror.  Just don't take any selfies.)

Mahatma Ghandi once said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."  (Wise man that Mahatma.)

And since I'm jumping on the inspirational quotes bandwagon, here's another one:  "It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness."

We can each be one small candle.  We can be an example for someone else.  And even if our individual light flickers by March first, maybe we'll still be able to catch a glimpse of someone else's off in the dark distance.

So be strong.  Be successful.  Be healthy.  Read a book.  Be kind to a child.  Rescue an animal.  Plant a garden.  Think for yourself.  Save some money.  Pay off your debt.  Cultivate a happy marriage.  Choose morality...and happiness...and gratitude.

Be a light.  Change yourself.

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