Taking Action and Being the Change in the World
On my preschool report card I got a check mark saying that I needed to work on cutting along the lines. To the teacher, I was going too fast and didn’t have the patience to carefully maneuver the scissors. Fast forward to middle school, where I had to stay after school to finish my sewing project because I could not match up the moving needle to the pattern. From the instructor’s view, I was another student in line attempting to make a pillow pet with no success.
From my perspective, I just wanted to do what would give me the end result I wanted. I was so excited to get started on a project that I didn’t take the time to meticulously follow my scissors to the exact line. I wanted my pillow pet and I didn’t have time to focus on how to properly thread the needle through the machine. I wanted to do things, and as soon as possible.
This was never really a problem for me. In fact, it was a trait I was proud of because I liked to keep things moving. Though my scissor skills were lacking and my pillow pet didn’t resemble a pillow or a pet, I liked being able to do something tangible and have an end result. It made me happy when I could see what I produced and when I did what was asked of me.
But what happens when taking action isn’t such an easy answer? What do we do when there is no assignment to complete, no class to pass, no finish line to cross? I decided to take a few weeks off from my blog back when I started having these questions. It seemed naive of me to think that a post I wrote in the late hours on the night would actually be anything of value to others.
When I posted online one day about the struggles I’ve been through and the message I had for others, I saw the amazing responses and realized the need to talk about these types of issues in an honest way. I wanted to open the conversation and allow people to connect with one another on a deeper level. I did what I automatically thought to do, and that was to take action. I began the blog and started writing everything out. I knew I wanted to write, I decided I was going to do a blog, and I took action by writing out a few posts.
So then what happened? To be honest, I got stuck. The hatred, the violence, the cruelty that has bombarded the news, weighed on me. There is no easy fix solution to the deep pain and suffering people around the world are feeling. There is no quick answer to the question of how we can bring peace and stability back to these people’s lives. I just wanted to take action, but I know these problems we are facing in this world require more than a simple checklist to piece back our faith in humanity.
I stopped tuning in to the news that revealed so much tragedy. I stopped typing up posts to share with others. I stopped asking questions because I was fearful of the answers. I was afraid there would be no action to take. I was worried that my rush to take action meant nothing in a time of sorrow and distress. The characteristic of myself that once lead me to accomplish many tasks was failing me at a point when I desperately wanted to depend on it.
I don’t know how to bring peace to the people fighting against their enemies. I don’t know how to comfort the families who have lost loved ones to violence. I don’t know how to mend broken hearts of little ones, lift heavy weight off shoulders of strangers, or even begin to understand all that has happened recently. But I do know this. The day after the Paris attacks, hundreds of people waited in line for hours to donate blood. In Baghdad, people from all walks of life gathered to hold candle vigils in honor of victims’ lives. Citizens around the globe offered prayers and opened their hearts to those in pain.
While I sit here and wonder how a person like me can make a difference, I look at those who do not just ask the question, but provide the answer. The people who waited in line to donate their blood, who left their doors open to strangers who needed a safe place to stay, who prayed in unison around the world; these are the people taking action. They were not told what to do, they have no grades to be held accountable to, no final submission for approval.
By letting go of having all the answers, this is how we begin to heal. By offering ourselves and all we have to give, this is how we get unstuck. By living a life of love and graciousness, this is how we move forward.
Kristie Nardini is a recent graduate of Western New England University with a degree in social work. She started a blog called Life After Fog to inspire others to share their stories and experiences with depression. Kristie loves when people form a community and support each other. She is a full-time student in a master’s program, but in her spare time is an avid reader and animal lover. She can be followed on Twitter @KristieNardini.