Hey, Joanna, How Can We Change the World?
This morning I was greeted by an email from a dear friend, Joanna Young. I am often encouraged by her words as I start my day. This email said, “it felt like the thing I needed to write. You know how that can be.”
Yeah. I do. We know I do.
I knew before I opened it that what Joanna wrote would move me. Anyone who reads her blog would know that. So, without another word of my own, I share it now with you.
Finding the Courage to Write
Guest Writer: Joanna Young
I donâ€™t know if youâ€™ve ever had the feeling that something is calling to you, blinking at you, trying to get your attention. “You need to do this”, it says. “You need to write this”, it tells you.
Liz’s change the world series is one of those quietly persistent flashes of light. It blinks at me: here I am, still waiting, patiently.
Sometimes it asks me, quietly: what are you waiting for?
Because the words, the idea, the possibility of writing something that’s about realizing the power of our own words to help change the world — well, that’s right up my street. It’s what I believe. Truly, deeply: that the words we use can help shape our reality, create the kind of world that we want to live in.
So what is it, the question goes, what is it, then, that you are waiting for?
And sometimes when I see another post go up, another beautiful button with a picture of this world we hold so dear, the simplicity of the message, the persistent reminder of those words, change the world! and the gentle, quiet reminder at the end: we can change the world, just like that! Sometimes when I see that button I get a jolt of anxiety that someone other than me will write the words I’m trying to find, that I’ll be too late, will have lost, or wasted the opportunity.
And so, the question persists, quietly: what is it, then, that you are waiting for?
And there are those times when I read other people’s words here , so simple, so powerful, such a compelling reminder, that yes, our words can and do make a difference that I’m jumping up and down in front of my computer, muttering yes, yes, yes! to my startled, sleepy, cat.
Words like the recent contribution from Jon Swanson, words that took my breath away with their power and simplicity, the conviction of this simple message:
Here’s the point. To talk about deciding to change the world ignores the fact that we already are. Our existence, our interactions, our writing, our time, our love, our hate –all of these things are shaping the world in small ways. The question is not whether you are ready to change your world. The question is whether you like the way you are already changing it. And whether you are willing to be part of helping other people change the world. too.
Our choices, our actions, our words, our decisions to write, or not to write: they all count. They’re all part of this bigger picture, one post at a time.
I know this. And yet: what is that you are waiting for?
And I realized. It’s not the words. It’s not the skill with the words, playing with phrases, finding just the right pattern and rhythm. Because I can do that. It’s not hard for me.
But writing this, answering this question, this quiet persistent question is hard. Itâ€™s hard because alongside the quiet, persistent question runs another line of insistent chatter. Who do you think you are, writing for a readership like that? Who do you think you are, offering up your paltry words to someone who knows so much, has written so much? Who do you think you are, offering up such small words to such a big task: change the world!
And so I realized. It wasn’t the words I was waiting for. It was the courage.
The courage to say: this is the best I can do. These are my words “they’re all I’ve got. I can’t think of anything smarter, wittier, cleverer, more appropriate to say. I’m sorry” It’s not enough.
And then I wondered: perhaps if this is how I feel, well maybe there are other people out there who feel the same. Perhaps if I venture up these words, however inadequate to the task, who knows, somewhere, some day, perhaps these words will resonate. Connect. Help to make a difference.
Help us to answer this gentle, persistent question.
What is that you’re waiting for?
Thanks, Joanna, for being a light, being a voice, and being there to help us see what to do.
We can change the world — just like that.
–ME “Liz” Strauss