The most important lesson I have learned in the fifty years I have spent working toward the building of a better world is that the true work of social transformation starts within. It begins inside your own heart and mind, because the battleground of human transformation is really, more than any other thing, the struggle within the human consciousness to believe and accept what is true. Thus to truly revolutionize our society, we must first revolutionize ourselves. We must be the change we seek if we are to effectively demand transformation from others. – Congressman and Civil Rights Movement leader John Lewis, Across that Bridge
When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. How often, in a large city, shaking hands with my friends, I have felt the wilderness stretching between us. Both of us were wandering in arid wastes, having lost the springs that nourished us — or having found them dry. Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The inspiration of a noble cause involving human interests wide and far, enables men to do things they did not dream themselves capable of before, and which they were not capable of alone. The consciousness of belonging, vitally, to something beyond individuality; of being part of a personality that reaches we know not where, in space and time, greatens the heart to the limit of the souls ideal, and builds out the supreme of character. – General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Battle of Gettysburg hero)
Whether we think most of our problems have systemic or structural, are caused by the “one percent” or corrupt politicians, or have other sources in human nature, we can agree that the solution still involves millions of personal choices we make (or fail to make) each day. The choices could be acting as if we don’t have time to exercise or purchasing big homes and fancy cars, which require them, that leave us no time to take care of ourselves or our families. Or the choices make be taking time each morning to “sharpen the saw,” as Steven Covey (“Seven Habits of Effective People” put it), by exercising, meditating or praying, working systematically to develop the wisdom and empathy to make wiser decisions as a business person, taxpayer, manager, teacher, or parent — or in many other roles that we play at work or in our families and communities.
Listed here are some websites that will help you think about the choices you can make by looking at the choices made by others:
- David Brooks, The Life Report & 2nd installment (Fall 2011)
- Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life? (10 of the book’s 50 stories)
- This I Believe (NPR). The radio show captures the core values as ordinary individuals and well-known guests talk about their lives.
- The Legacy Project: Lessons from the Wisest Americans
- StoryCorps – “Our mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants.” (You can also find many StoryCorps stories on PBX at http://www.pbx.org/storycorps.