Just like in a cafe, we talk about everything. Nothing heavy. Just talk over a cup of coffee.
Friday, March 1, 2013
ONE VOICE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There's a song by Billy Gilham entitled "One Voice." The lyrics are powerful:
One voice, one simple word Hearts know what to say One dream can change the world Keep believing Till you find a way
The message is important when you think about its true meaning. One voice, truly focused, that will not rest until it achieves its desired goal can change the world. A single voice can make a difference, but the question then becomes: how best to use our voice?
When I look at the editorial page, I see people who express themselves. They write letters, they feel better, but no real change happens.
I'd like to share a personal story.
Every afternoon my mother enjoys watching Judge Judy. The television station that she watches is constantly being interrupted with a million commercials. If it isn't another commercial by a lawyer winning yet another million-dollar case for some frivolous reason, it's the "breaking news" stories that are never really breaking anyway.
Couldn't that story have waited for the actual news broadcast, which is always about 15 minutes away? They just seem to enjoy interrupting Judge Judy instead.
And then there are those awful weather reports. If a storm is stirring in Grand Rapids, interrupt Judge Judy. Raindrops on the west side, lets interrupt Sheindlin. Never mind that she is deliberating a case, or worse yet, that the verdict will be missed. If there are raindrops north of M59, that is news! Apparently no one took the time to complain about it -- that is until my mother sent the program director of WJBK an email and, lo and behold, the next morning she received a phone call!
After expressing her frustration, the program director politely explained that the station had no control over the number and amount of commercials. The network decided that. And the text flashing across the bottom of the screen? It was there for the hearing-impaired.
"What about weatherman Rich Luterman showing us the weather authorities, sky tracker, Doppler radar, satellite images of raindrops from 30,000 feet?" she asked cynically. The program director hesitated, unable to give her an answer. To quote Judge Judy, "It's outrageous! and 'Um' is not an answer!"
I have to admit my mother felt better after the phone call, but when I sat down with her and asked her what had changed, her answer was a thoughtful silence.
That's the problem. My mother used her voice, and expressed her opinion, so she's halfway there, but we need to be a voice for change.
Let's take a look at one of those far-reaching changes. In 1980, in Fair Oaks, Calif., Candy Lightner's 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver while walking down a street. On that day her mother promised herself that she would fight to make her daughter's senseless death count for something positive. That month Mothers Against Drunk Driving was formed.
How many lives has MADD saved? Countless. One woman's voice became a nationwide crusade against the leniency of the sentences being issued for this criminal act, and American law changed. Her moral objection against a court system that passed out trivial sentences against offenders changed the way we looked at drinking and driving.
In the years that followed, Ms. Lightner left MADD concerned that the organization she had created had lost its focus. "I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving, not alcohol usage." She said. "It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned."
Although the movement she began seems to have lost its direction, it still inevitably saves lives.
Change requires more than just a letter to the editorial page. It requires a more forceful voice and action.
Find your voice and your calling. Remember, your influence can make a difference. If you decide to write a letter to the editor's page, go further; get angry. Take a position that will draw in support, and in the words of the great Football Hall of Fame quarterback, Roger Staubach, when teaching his lessons of how to win in life:
"Persevere. Go all the way, because there's not much traffic on the extra mile."