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Be the Change

Normally when I write about relationships, it's the one-ion-one kind of stuff that gets my focus – parenting, conflict resolution at the office, that sort of thing. But this week I feel my focus has shifted to those relationships we have with society at large.

Whether it's our day-to-day interactions on social media or the way we deal with our frustrations and outrage when we hear about a serious injustice, our conduct both online and in person tends to shape the world we live in.

Each and every one of us is responsible for the choices we make. If we choose to go along with the cheating to make a few extra pennies on a revenue sharing site, or we choose to get right in on the Black Friday madness, that choice takes a little bit of kindness out of our world.

It's natural to become angry when it seems a police officer has escaped justice or when we feel the death of a young person is just another example of everything that is wrong with our society. But we have a choice to take righteous anger and channel it towards creating positive change in the world. Or we can just use the incident as an excuse to riot and loot.

Our relationship with society begins with the choices we make every day. The little things like how we respond when someone cuts in front of us in line, or how we'll answer a loved one who snapped at us – these are the foundation for our relationship with society on a broader scale. And our conduct when we think we can get away with it – well, it changes us inside. If we cheat when we think nobody is looking, we become cheaters. We get a little high from not being caught. And maybe the next time we'll be willing to cheat in a more obvious way, or to take it up just a notch or two.

If we applaud the rioting and the looting, that changes us too. Something inside us that normally points us away from violence, is eroded just a little because of the pleasure we take in watching a business robbed or seeing a police car burn. We may grow back a new layer of skin, so to speak. Something later may remind us of our humanity and help to restore that precious kernel that is our compassion, our distaste for violence, our personal integrity.

But what if that doesn't happen? And what if, worse still, the next bad thing happens first? When time after time our moral compass is damaged by seeing others get away with plagiarism and copyright infringement, with tax and welfare fraud, with beating on someone or destroying a business, we become broken people.

And when a whole society is made up of broken people, it's no wonder it's dysfunctional.

We can't control what anyone else does, but we can take responsibility for our part in that vicious cycle. We can choose to take the high road and not cheat, even though everyone else is getting away with it. We can take a little extra time, and make an effort to encourage the cheaters to find new ways of earning without breaking the rules.

And most of all, we can speak up when we see people who are really taking it too far.

Instead of jumping on the bandwagon and applauding the violence. Instead of rationalizing what is going on by saying the police are corrupt, and all of this violence wouldn't happen if racism and socioeconomic oppression were eliminated. Instead if turning away in disgust and closing ourselves off from the conversation.

Just to say, “This is wrong.”

As Gandhi said, we need to be the change we want to see in the world. It's not going to happen without us.

This is my Relationships entry in Dawnwriter 's A-W Category Challenge

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Glenn wrote on November 29, 2014, 12:05 PM

I applaud you for the way you expressed this entire scenario. The "cheaters" will never win. Their attitude puts them deeper into the place where they think others have put them. They simply create a situation that others will always look down upon. As long as they continue with their way of reacting, they will never succeed with making their thoughts and feelings understood.

32Beat wrote on November 29, 2014, 12:58 PM

And what if this is just evolution? We chose an evolutionary system for our society which has a tendency to undulate between extremes, just like the harmonica. It does so for money in the system, but apparently it does so for peace & conflict, and perhaps even for culture in general.

carolscash wrote on November 29, 2014, 2:13 PM

This is well written and a lesson that many people need to understand. I have tried to teach my children that they must make choices that might go against the grain of society but that they must do what they feel is the right thing to do whether it is what others feel is right or not.

Scorpie wrote on November 29, 2014, 3:10 PM

That which you manifest is before you. I love inspirational wiring because we do need to be reminded from time to time that the human mind is a powerful tool that must be wielded with skill and grace. It took me fifty or so years but I almost have the hang of it.

bestwriter wrote on November 29, 2014, 6:25 PM

I am a proactive of sorts and feel happy when I crane my neck here and there. But there is only so much one can do.

celticeagle wrote on November 29, 2014, 6:29 PM

This all very true. And I think, for me anyway, we need to be reminded of this from time to time.

inertia4 wrote on November 29, 2014, 7:17 PM

Ruby3881 I like this article. But how I see it is like this. First off let me say, yes, we do have choices and we are responsible for our choices. But, to think that there is no corruption in this world, regardless if it is a police officer. They made those choices and they are wrong. Sometimes we cannot just stand back without getting involved. I agree that rioting is not the answer. But standing up for what we believe in is. A peaceful demonstration. If no one ever got involved then we would feel less of ourselves as well. As long as there are humans on this planet, there will never be peace nor perfection. People are their own worst enemy.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 30, 2014, 4:36 AM

The sad thing is that in some situations the cheaters seem to be in the majority. When they feel buoyed by the acceptance of all their fellow cheaters, they create a false sense of legitimacy, and then those who speak out are the ones who are "wrong" and looked down upon.

It takes courage to speak up. But it's only in speaking up that we can expect anything to change.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 30, 2014, 4:44 AM

I try to teach my kids the same thing, Carol :)

Ruby3881 wrote on November 30, 2014, 4:48 AM

I think the toughest lesson isn't that the people have the power to create change, but rather that we ARE the people...

Ruby3881 wrote on November 30, 2014, 4:51 AM

True Grace, but that is what we must do if we wish to see change. Very often there are many who would stand up with us. But they are afraid to be the first. If me standing up first is what it takes to get others to also take a stance, I am willing :)

Ruby3881 wrote on November 30, 2014, 5:00 AM

I think if we aren't taken to task occasionally, we tend to get lazy....

Ruby3881 wrote on November 30, 2014, 5:02 AM

I think you're reading things into my post that aren't there at all.

midastouch wrote on November 30, 2014, 5:40 AM

You present it again in a format that is simple and yet moving. But like you pointed out here, whatever we do with the other person or however we react to the bad news breaking before us, it's all a matter of CHOICE and it comes from right WITHIN - DEEP SEATED in our MINDS

Glenn wrote on November 30, 2014, 4:09 PM

How true. There's one additional problem. Even speaking up doesn't work because those we speak up about will never listen. Their false sense of legitimacy is too powerful.

celticeagle wrote on November 30, 2014, 8:16 PM

Sad but true. I deal with mental health and family disfunction enough that don't really need to be brought to task. Calgon take me away!

Ruby3881 wrote on December 1, 2014, 4:15 AM

The trick is to get each person to realize he has a choice to make!

maxeen wrote on December 1, 2014, 9:46 AM

They are always on the fringe ! Waiting to get what they can, and they don't care that they are perverting a justified demonstration.

Feisty56 wrote on December 3, 2014, 6:20 PM

I agree with everything you've said. I can't take on the responsibility of changing anyone else -- each person is free to make his or her own choices -- but I can change me. In changing myself, I can show by word and deed that which I value. Words are important -- they reach open minds and hearts, but actions are the proof of the pudding.

MamaOzzy3881 wrote on December 11, 2014, 2:04 AM

Awesome post! This was really interesting

scheng1 wrote on December 20, 2014, 7:50 AM

One point is missing, and that is the trustworthiness of the information we receive. Even the reporters from reputable newspapers take side and seldom report everything factually.