Who Says the Individual is Powerless? Not Me!
Use Your Power Daily!
The other day I was reading a fascinating book entitled Generation Me in which the author describes her generation, the generation born after c. 1965. For me, a little older than that ... but not much thank you very much ... the most disturbing assertion in the book was that individuals of the Generation Me have the pervasive feeling that they are powerless, that as individuals they can accomplish nothing. I'm willing to take her bold and disturbing statement further and assert this is a common feeling in western society as a whole. It's a "you can't fight city hall" attitude run amok.
I wish to state as politely as I can that, in this writer's humble opinion, this awful and all too real attitude is nonsense. Yes, the attitude exists but it has no validity to it. I'm sure certain groups may find cultivating this feeling works to their advantage, leaving the playing field open for them; however, it is a corrosive and destructive assumption that leads to an enfeebling of individuals and societies.
Here are a few general examples of individuals who have made a difference. We'll keep it small scale as we who watch and listen to the news have a skewed idea of what making a difference means (it is not a loud and splashy thing in most cases). Think back over the years and ask yourself who has influenced your life for the better from the day you were born until now. Who were and are your mentors? Who were and are your friends? Who guided you through troubling times? Who rescued you as a child when you were lost? Do you have a favorite novelist? What would your life be like if you had not been able to spend many enjoyable hours living in the world of that individual's creation had this writer decided that the individual can never make an impact and had chosen therefore not to write? Has a doctor every diagnosed an illness for you and successfully treated it? Where would you be if that individual assumed she/he could make no difference?
If you are of a religious mindset, ask yourself why God in the Old Testament turned to individual prophets to warn the nation of Israel to mend her ways to avoid calamity. That makes no sense in this pervasive mindset. Look to Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son. Why would the father (a metaphor for God) be concerned at all whether the son (metaphorically each and every person on the planet who has ever lived or who ever will live) returned or continued to live in squallor. None of this makes sense if the individual truly does not matter and has no power.
I suggest that, due to this invasive, poisonous feeling of helplessness, we are becoming a world of victims. Feeling helpless, we are unlikely to stand up for causes or to help others in the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our travels. How many appalling situations might have turned out differently had all the people witnessing some terrible act risen up to overcome the small numbers of individuals involved in an assault or other horrible act? Who knows what abuses of the environment might be ended quickly if an empowered people rose up to demand an end of a noxious practice. It's worth thinking about. It's worth trying. There are notable individuals who have done so throughout history, raised their voices in protest like the prophets of old and rallied people who all made a difference, all empowered individually by this visionary person and as a group.
I humbly suggest that over the next weeks and months you try an experiment. Do little things to make others lives more pleasant. Smiling and being cheerful are good places to start. It's a very small investment to try this. Work your way up from there and see if, over time, you aren't someone who makes a difference in the lives of others in little ways that actually mean a great deal to others. Who knows where you'll end up? I believe you'll discover you are quite a powerful person, truth be told.
If you are ever in my neck of the woods, I suggest you stop by the Exton Community Baptist Church (114 E. Swedesford Road, Exton, PA 19341) and discover a bunch of friendly individuals who will be very glad you stopped by. You just might find a message from God for you personally through a sermon or a hymn or the kind words and warm handshake of a stranger. Consider this visit an extended part of the experiment. You'll quickly find you have the power to make the congregants smile because they are glad you're there and you'll see how powerful other individuals are when you feel warm and welcomed by their greetings.
So, to counter what the culture tells you, remember that you are a much loved child of God, beautifully and wondrously made by the Creator, and you have been given the power to change your little corner of the world each and every day in each and every moment by what you do and what you say. You are very strong. How will you use that power today?
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