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Passing The Buck: A Moment With Bill Reflection
Some Initial Thoughts
“I don't know if it will help saying this to you... some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us... your father is one of them.”….from “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
I watched that movie yesterday for probably the twentieth time. As a writer, I find it helps me to keep my ego in check when faced with the brilliance of Harper Lee. As a human being, I find it helps remind me of some very true facts of life.
Some men, and women, are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.
Whew! What a slap of reality that is, eh?
Our history books are sprinkled with details of their lives; people who seem to take the burdens of the world upon themselves and rise up to speak for the masses. What could be their motivation? What could lead them to leave the relative safety of obscurity and declare to the world that they are willing to endure the slings and arrows so that others might have a voice?
Are they born differently? Is there some anomaly in their DNA that makes them do such things? Were they raised in such a way that makes it mandatory, for them, that they step out of the crowd and in fact attract crowds through their words and actions?
And what of the others? What of those who see wrongs but do not speak out? What of those who know the truth and yet find contentment in ignoring that same truth? Is there something different about them that they can embrace complacency and be willing to turn over the yoke of change to others more willing?
Difficult questions for sure.
Is Admiration Enough?
Yes we admire them. We admire the Rosa Parks of the world, and the Gandhis. We admire the rabble-rousers and the instigators, and we sing their praises on high and we tuck the covers under our chins at night and thank whatever god we believe in that there are those who have our backs while we sleep safely.
We wrap ourselves in a flag of our choosing and say thank you to the soldiers and firefighters, the police and the medics, and we breathe a sigh of relief because they are doing the dirty work so we don’t have to get smudged, bruised and scraped. All is well in our world as long as the buck can be passed and the burden of humanity is carried by someone else.
But is that worthy of an elevated species?
“Some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.”
Really? Is this life some random crapshoot where some are on the front lines while others sip mint julips and cheer them on?
I say to you that it is not right. It is not right that a small minority do the dirty work for the majority, and I say to you that our current societal problems are due, in large part, because we have passed the buck far too often.
What Price Do You Pay?
Ooh, now we’re getting personal! Now we are prying off the fingernails and getting a tad uncomfortable, aren’t we?
Why do we allow others to do our dirty work while we prance about oblivious to the problems that grow as weeds in our figurative backyards?
If there is a problem of homelessness in your community, then we have allowed it to happen.
If there is a problem with abuse and sex trafficking in our community, then we have allowed it to happen.
If there is a problem with pollution and drugs and crime and hunger, then we, the community, have allowed it to happen.
And what do we say to that?
The government will handle it. The police will handle it. The social workers can handle it and the churches can handle it. Never do we say I will handle it, but we should, and we should say it daily, one person at a time, until a large crowd rises and declares that this is no longer the responsibility of a chosen few but rather the responsibility of the complacent many.
I boldly state that every single one of you reading this is affected by the societal problems of which I speak. The economy is still in the tank. Your buying power has shrunk and there may be abuse in your family. You know there is a drug culture in your neighborhood or you know there are people sleeping on park benches at night when the “good” people go safely to bed.
So I ask you again: what price do you pay?
It begins with Love
It Is Time
Yes it is time! It is time for each person to take responsibility and to seize common occasions and make them great.
We do not need 100 more Gandhis. We need one-hundred million average people to step forward and be part of the solution.
Kindness copulates with compassion and gives birth to love. Imagine that happening a million times a day around the world. If it were to happen we would no longer need extraordinary people to do our dirty work for us.
H.O.W. can it happen you say?
Humanity One World!
Making a difference in this world one person at a time, and it begins with us.
Rosa Parks is dead. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, both dead. “Has anybody seen my old friend Abraham? Can you tell me where he’s gone?”
He lives in each of us. They all live in each of us. Every time a citizen reaches out a hand of help, they live. Every time we rise to meet our potential as human beings, they live. Wherever there is empathy for others, they live, and wherever there is a true sense of community, one thriving from the combined efforts towards a common good, they live.
The buck stops here. It has been passed around for far too long, and the inevitable has happened. We have become dehumanized, and we have come to expect others to do that which we find too distasteful. In a sense, as Harper Lee pointed out, it has always been that way, but it does not have to continue.
Even heroes need to rest.
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So Then We All Must Become Heroes
“You can't relate to a superhero, to a superman, but you can identify with a real man who in times of crisis draws forth some extraordinary quality from within himself and triumphs but only after a struggle.”
Back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, there were, sprinkled around the world, little coffee shops where those who believed in tilting windmills would congregate. They would sit in little clusters, discussing weighty issues, and somewhere in the background could be heard the poet of the day reciting verses about social change. When the poet was done there would be a smattering of applause, and the conversations eventually wound down, and the participants in this exercise of free speech would go home to sleep off the heavy yoke of political discourse.
Some actually did more than talk. Some went out in the streets and found those windmills and put their backs to the job and pushed for all they were worth and in fact, some of those windmills did topple.
I call on all of you to topple some windmills. The ability to affect massive change is within each of us. Never underestimate the power of a small group of determined people.
In this cynical world, chances are that another Gandhi may not be recognized and quite possibly would be written off as nothing more than a crackpot if he were to appear. However, we do not need another Gandhi. What we need…..what we desperately need….is for every citizen to channel the spirit of Gandhi and perform small acts of kindness. What we desperately need is for every citizen to rise above their willingness to let others do it, and actually do it themselves.
We can do with less heroes as long as we have more humans.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”