These days it's very easy to get discouraged when we see what's happening in the world. I like what an internet marketing guy named Derek Halpern wrote about this:
We must strive to Be The Exception.
“17 out of 18 women make less than $100,000 per year? We need to change this. But I will be the 1 out of 18 who makes more. #BeTheException”
“Two-thirds of people are obese? We need to fight against bad food. But I will be the 1 out of 3 people who lives at a healthy weight. #BeTheException”
“Born poor? Stay poor? We need to fix our education system. We need to make things fair for everyone. But I will get rich. #BeTheException.”
“People are lonely? We need to figure out what’s happening. But I will pursue healthy relationships that make me feel fulfilled. #BeTheException.”
It's tempting to say that we must either throw ourselves totally into the fight for social justice or to withdraw from the fray, but this seems to be a better approach. I guess it's a variation of "be the change you want to see" but it goes a bit beyond that.
A story that really touched me recently (in a not entirely comfortable way) was the one about the mother who went to see Gandhi and asked him to tell her son not to eat sugar.
Gandhi asked her to come back in two weeks. When she returned, Gandhi told the boy to stop eating so much sugar.
The women asked Gandhi why he'd requested the two-week delay. He said, "Because first I had to stop eating sugar."
I haven't been eating too much sugar...wait, maybe I have--do energy drinks count? Oh oh!
Anyway, the reason it wasn't entirely comfortable is that any of us who teach anything really need to be doing what we teach, and sometimes I find myself slipping up, not being the exception. That's when stories can be a powerful reminder to get back on track.