Please, Look in the Mirror!!!
Every year, we Americans set aside the fourth Thursday of November to express gratitude for all we have. This year, I have a very long list, and at the top are friends who are smarter than I am, more generous than I am and stronger than I am. I appreciate these friends not only for their gifts but because they challenge me to be a better person.
Just this week, one such friend put a situation into perspective.
We had just attended an event about childhood poverty. I’d played a small part in helping organize the event, and my friend served as a discussion group facilitator. When the event was over, she called me to debrief.
“Here’s my issue,” she said. “We asked participants to brainstorm ideas about how we could address poverty in our community and you know what members of my group did?
“What?” I asked.
“They identified specific strategies for the families struggling with poverty, for community organizations and for schools,” she said. “What no one discussed is what each of us can personally do It’s like they think caring is enough. That will never be enough. We each have to personal responsibility.”
My friend is smarter than I am, and she is absolutely right.
Personal responsibility has become a catch phrase for people who are facing financial and other crises. It is rarely used regarding “the rest of us” who are paying our bills and are able to manage our lives fairly well.
But until children are no longer living in poverty, we are all facing a crisis and we are all personally responsible.
Yet so many of us want to point fingers and place responsibility on others.
As my friend noted, we have to stop.
We all need to look in the mirror and ask “What can I do?” Not what can my community do? What can my agency do? What can my school do? Or even what can my church do?
Handing responsibility to others is often easier than handing it to ourselves, and this Thanksgiving I am grateful for my friend, and all the other individuals, who truly understand that. When more and more people begin to take such personal responsibility, only then will we be able to truly begin to solve the complex issues of child poverty.
And when that happens, we will have even more reason for thanks giving.