How do I help change my community?

This is a great question. It depends on which community we are referring to. As an educator, I hope I encourage some amount of change in my students by enacting lesson plans which do more for their mental and moral growth than teaching them to pass standardized tests might. Although I do want them to succeed academically and part of what their age group needs is practice in standardized writing and effective reading in order to move on to the next grade, I believe not infusing more emotional and personal ways of growing and thinking into their classwork, will only harm them in the long run, even if they understand standardized test formats and formulas perfectly. I am not in the business of short term learning. I have done it. It’s not been beneficial to myself or those around me who have been willing to be honest about their educational experiences. I believe I learned much more about being a person, a human among humans, in school, than I did at home. I learned about who I wanted to be, who I wanted to surround myself with and what beliefs suited me. I also believe I was born with some of those things and k-12 only formed the next level of my foundation for those eternally growing thought processes as they existed in society, rather than just within myself. But that’s what I think is the most important part of school; Interpersonal interactions, learning who one is and who one might want to become, and engaging in verbal or written expression that will help one form communication tools for many dynamics throughout one’s life, those are the things I think effect change in students’ lives. Sometimes that can be done by approaching literature in a specific way, sometimes by having challenging and controversial discussions, and sometimes just by exercising certain tools that they can hold on to for the future. In a similar vain, but completely different setting…

As a sober adult, working with younger kids who want to get sober is where I believe I change my community the most. Yes, we also help them learn tools for life that will help them survive on a day to day basis for as long as they want to be alive, but thats the difference; It’s more of a life or death scenario. It’s contingent upon whether or not they want to live, not whether or not they want to succeed academically. It has allowed me to move through life with a healthy amount of detachment and acceptance, because all I can do is offer what was so freely given to me. It’s an individual’s choice to use or ignore the suggestions and tools for living that I and others can offer them. The willingness to live and change one’s own life has nothing to do with me, but being present for others who allow themselves to be enveloped by that willingness is the greatest gift in the world. I will always be a part of this program because when I am unconditionally available and loving for those struggling through life, I know at some point someone will benefit and that will create a domino effect where they become able to do the same for someone else. I know this because I’ve seen it in action. It’s the most fulfilling thing in my life. And I pray every day that someone somewhere is getting the help they need from someone who like myself and many others around me, have their hand out to those who wake up one day and decide life is in fact worth living and they are ready to put in the work to live it.

I feel like that sound like I think I do a lot, and to be clear, I think there is so much more that I could do. The parts of society I am a part of changing are big, but my actual effectiveness is minor. There is only one of me and I can only do what I can do. But what I can do has to be enough. I am not God. I cannot change the world. But some days I make one person’s day better. Some days I teach one student something that changes their academic experience. Some days I make one person smile which has the potential to change the trajectory of their day. And thats enough for me today.

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