I am a huge fan of Heather Cox Richardson. If you are unacquainted with her work, I implore you to go to her Facebook page and check her out. (After you read this, of course.)
Ms. Richardson is an academic and a historian. But most of her 1.5 million Facebook followers know her as a special kind of historian: she writes daily synopses of current events in a way that is thorough and insightful, yet concise enough to absorb in a few minutes of reading. They read like passages from a future history book. Which is what you would expect from a historian, I guess.
On March 4th, she wrote the following, which I copied into my journal for future reference.
Every day, people write to me and say they feel helpless to change the direction of our future. I always answer that we change the future by changing the way people think, and that we change the way people think by changing the way we talk about things. To that end, I have encouraged people to speak up about what they think is important, to take up oxygen that otherwise feeds the hatred and division that have had far too much influence in our country of late.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges facing America and the world today. I don’t need to begin listing the litany of those challenges, from a two-year-old pandemic to the travesty of the Russian war against Ukraine to the unstable condition of our own democracy.
In the face of such vexing obstacles, it’s tempting to feel as though there is nothing one individual can do. I often feel overwhelmed at it all. I’m sure most of us do.
Sure, there are people with a great deal of influence, who can exert some degree of control over huge events. People with money, power, and influence are in positions to do something, to varying degrees.
I presume no one reading this has such influence over events at the international or national level. I’m taking the leap of faith in assuming that you — like me — influence no more than a handful of people on a regular basis. And that those people themselves have little influence.
Hence, our despairing withdrawal into inaction.
So when I read the quote above, it stirred something in me. Even though Ms. Richardson has a daily audience of potentially over one million people, she recognizes that almost none of her readers has that kind of influence. Yet, she insists, they are not powerless. We are not powerless.
I’m not sure how strongly–if at all–I believe that. But I need something to anchor myself in these turbulent times. Something to make me feel I can affect change, if only on a minute scale.
WinCity is still a very small operation. Perhaps a hundred people will read this. But that’s one hundred more who would hear my thoughts on a topic than would if I didn’t write. What if I were able to change the mind of just one person on some important issue? “Big whoop,” right?
Now here comes the fun part. What if that one person were able to change the mind of one other person, or two? And what if each of those were able to do the same? Are you getting the picture?
“But wait,” you protest. “I don’t write for a website. I don’t have a blog. I don’t have any means to reach one hundred people.”
But maybe you do.
Are you on Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Tic Tok? LinkedIn? Do you have 100 followers? I think you see where I’m going with this. I don’t have to draw you a picture.
But what if you aren’t on social media at all? Well, good for you. But you do have friends, don’t you? Neighbors? Coworkers? People at your place of worship or school or fraternal organization?
I’d consider it a safe bet that one face-to-face conversation with a trusted friend is worth one hundred page views from somebody with a blog.
So if you’re feeling helpless about the future of our community, our nation, our world — say something. Share with someone how you’d like to change the world. You never know the impact it may have.