Fighting For Change

One of my favorite musicals is Hairspray. I came upon this musical rather late. I never seemed to have much interest in seeing the musical until a couple of years ago when I saw it in movie form with John Travolta playing the role which originally was played by Harvey Fierstein, Edna Turnblad. Once I saw this, I fell in love with it. I believe the message is what really resonated with me even though the acting and singing is phenomenal.

If you have not seen the musical or may be a late comer to it like myself, the musical is set in 1962 among the start of the civil rights movement in our nation. With a setting of Baltimore, Maryland, we are taken to the place where a white overweight female with a love to dance fights for her opportunity to share her passion while at the same time the black community is fighting for an opportunity to live without segregation and discrimination. This battle plays out on a local television stage which is the home to the Corney Collins Show, an after-school music and dance show targeting the teenage population in Baltimore.

This musical is about fighting for change. A change in how people are perceived whether due to the color of their skin or the size of their body. The message is clear that a person’s physical appearance should never define their abilities or their right to live out their life based on the passions, skills, and dreams which they carry.

It takes a lot of courage to fight for change. There are sacrifices which often must be made. Risks must be taken. Yet without any of this, change will not occur. The system likes status quo. Almost every person likes status quo when they are in a comfortable place. Only through the committed efforts of individuals can change really happen. History is filled with stories which support this.

We currently are living in a time when our nation is divided. Loud extremes are the ones being heard. Those who are in the middle sit by and watch these extremes fight at levels beyond normal rationale. Each side lies and misrepresents the other side. Civil dialogue is drowned out by shouts of hatred. Many wish for a change which will tone down the rhetoric and encourage compromise. Yet, this is not going to happen unless individuals have the courage to fight for change.

What change do you want to happen? Are you willing to fight for that change? How are you going to fight for change?

Legitimacy

What would it be like if every person in the world was honest? If everyone only spoke the truth? If you could trust that what a person says is actually accurate? This is an ideal which I am confident will not become a reality any time soon. Unfortunately, there are always going to be lies told. Some of those lies are more serious in nature than others. Some lies may be legitimized out of a concern for another person or the liar’s well-being. The challenge that all of us face is determining who is lying and who is telling the truth in situations. We have a judicial system which is intended to help sort this out on more serious matters. However, as much effort as individuals or a society may make in finding the truth, there are times when the truth is elusive.

Recent events have brought this to the forefront of my thoughts lately. Accusations and denials seem to be rampant as you watch the evening news or read the daily edition of the newspaper. Everybody is innocent and everybody is guilty at the same time. What really concerns me is the impact which it has on true victims of crime and abuse. I am concerned that society is or will become jaded. When someone who has experienced a hateful and harmful act against them steps forward, will the person be believed?

In the childhood story, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, attributed to Aesop, the boy sought to get reaction and attention. Each time the boy yelled out that a wolf was coming to attack the sheep, the village would respond by rushing out to protect the sheep and the boy. Time and again, the villagers would arrive only to find out there was no wolf. Then one day there actually was a wolf but when the boy yelled for help no one came because they thought he was not telling the truth. My fear is that this may be playing out in our society today. The legitimate victims are not being listened to because so many claims which have little to no merit are flooding our ears and our corporate thoughts. People are becoming deaf to the legitimate cries for help.

Another fear which I have is that there is an automatic rush to judgment. An accusation is gaining the full weight of a verified truth before any amount of true investigation is being conducted. In history, this happens when a group of individuals have been ignored too long. Like a swinging pendulum, when the group is finally listened to, the response goes to the opposite extreme. Unfortunately, in the midst of this remains true victims and true innocent individuals. Our judicial system in the United States is based on an understanding that a person is innocent until proven guilty. This requires faithful investigation and faithful determination of the facts.

The truth is that there are victims of crimes and abuse who legitimately need to be heard. There are also dishonest people. We do not have a perfect system which can always determine who is telling the truth and who is misrepresenting the situations. We have the best system available to us. Instead of using public forums or social media to determine guilt and innocence, we need to use the legal system which we have in place. A system that investigates before making public accusations. A system which strives to balance the well-being of the victim and the accused. This system establishes legitimacy.

My hope is that we can work on continuing to perfect this system before the legitimate gets lost in the illegitimate, or even worse, the ones seeking the spotlight.

At Any Cost

What is success?

Webster defines success in this way…

1a: degree or measure of succeeding

b: favorable or desired outcome

also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

How success looks is truly in the eyes of the one striving to achieve it. What may appear as a success to one person does not necessarily equate with another individual’s understanding. So how do you define success? What does success look like to you in your life?

No matter what definition a person has of success, it requires effort. Success does not just happen in a person’s life. At least, I do not know of any case where this has occurred. A challenge which I see in regard to achieving success is that in addition to effort, it can also require some sacrifice. An example would be of an athlete who is striving to be successful in her or his sport. In order to achieve this goal, the athlete may need to forego social activities during the season, or give up some foods in their diet.

I am led to another question.

How much sacrifice is appropriate in the journey to success?

I have noticed that there appears to be individuals who wish to achieve success no matter what the cost may be in the process. The athlete who will destroy his or her body. The businessperson who will destroy relationships. I am sure that you can think of similar situations. Often, these costs create an impact which will never be overcome even if a level of success is achieved.

I think that it is important for us to teach the generations who follow us that while success is a noble goal to work for, the sacrifices which a person makes to achieve the goal must be measured in a lifelong view. The best way for us to teach this lesson is by modeling the behavior. From there we can have honest discussions with younger individuals regarding choices and outcomes.