With the election now over, let’s turn to more significant issues again…real life. Many are saddened by the outcome. Many are threatening to leave America. A friend called saying that everyone in California “looks like they have been run over by a truck” because of the result.
“Make America Great Again” has been the slogan of the President-elect. What made America great in the first place? What keeps it as one of the most desired to live in countries in the world?
What I think has made America great has been the freedom to choose in spite of. If you live in this country or immigrate here, you have the chance to carve out a life for yourself. This is the land of great opportunity. The greatest opportunity in the world. Previous president’s haven’t ruined that, and upcoming ones can’t either.
The freedom to choose is the greatest asset of our country. Because you live here doesn’t mean life will be easy, we need to make every effort to build something beautiful for ourselves. But the opportunity to build something beautiful is the inspiration that keeps most of us stepping forward.
Let’s keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter who is president in order to make your world great again. It’s not like the POTUS or your other elected officials are going to drop by your house and give you something to instantly make your life better. We make our life better one choice at a time. IN SPITE OF all the divisions and social ails of our country, we can choose to do something to make our lives, and our world, great again.
So join me in exercising our greatest liberty in this country. Choice!
Here are 10 ways you can choose to make your world great again.
1. Stop blaming. There isn’t one thing or one person at fault for your situation. Blaming pushes aside responsibility and negates the possibility for healing. When we blame we say that we aren’t at fault and something else is. It also puts opportunity for improved conditions in others hands. Take ownership of where you are and decide you will take improving your situation back into your hands.
2. Stop complaining. Yes, America is imperfect. No, the President can’t fix everything. Yes, America is still horribly racially unequal. No, change won’t come quickly. We can complain about everything. Complaining doesn’t change anything either. When we complain we actually suck life out of ourself and others. Choose to improve your state of mind by refusing to complain. Instead, go and do something about it.
Maya Angelou said, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
3. Be thankful. When we are thankful we gain perspective and lift our own spirits. It changes our focus from what we don’t have to what we do have. Some of us may not have much, but being thankful for the little things still brings a greater sense of appreciation about everything in life.
In many developing countries people have extremely little, but many seem to be happier and content in their conditions. So it is not having things that brings happiness, or having everything for that matter. We choose our attitude. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Envy is wanting something you don’t have, and it ruins us when it takes over. Choose the opposite. Be thankful for what you do have and it gives life.
4. Be a giver, not a taker. We all know people who only seem to ask and take, and never give anything in return. They are draining. To change your world and make it great, choose to reverse the equation. Don’t expect just to get. John Kennedy’s famous inaugural statement still hold true, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
We all have a lot to give. So become active and give your gifts and talents to help those around you. You may not feel like you have a lot to give, but still giving out of your little can encourage someone. Make your world around you great by giving yourself to it.
5. Do things that bless and uplift people. I love seeing the commercials that show how doing something kind for someone inspires other to do the same. Kindness is contagious. When we do unexpected acts of kindness, it brings smiles to people like nothing else I’ve witnessed. Bring greatness to your world by starting a chain of kindness that inspires others. It brings a smile to your face when you do things that lift others spirits. Be creative and go for it.
6. Stand up for what is right. There is a lot wrong in our country, but like Maya Angelou said above…we can do something about it. Some people protest with words, some take action. What is great about this country is we can protest. There comes a joy when you stand up against injustice and for a purpose bigger than yourself. Take time to invest in a purpose bigger than yourself.
Racial inequality must end! What can one little white guy do? For me, it means getting to know people who are activists and finding out how I can come alongside them. How do they want to take action? How can I support them or contribute to that action? Will I continue to not engage and perpetuate white privilege, or learn about the issues and hurts that real people I know deal with daily? I must intentionally engage. It takes effort, but standing for what it right is worth it. It brings purpose and passion to life.
7. Make a difference in your spheres of influence. We don’t all have huge platforms, but we all have spheres of influence. We can make a difference in small ways more thoroughly than we can make a huge difference. Don’t wait for “from the stage” moments in order to make an impact on people or communities. Make your world great by being a person of action and change.
8. Build into people’s lives. Show kindness. Exhibit compassion. Speak words of life to the people around you. We are all building a legacy one way or another. I’ve been to several memorial services lately where I numerous people spoke of how the deceased invested in their life. That inspired me. I want to be known as someone made an impact in people’s lives. What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered? We build that legacy every day, one choice at a time. Make the world around you great by speaking encouragement, hope, kindness, and blessing.
9. Connect in community. In our media-sophisticated, tech-savvy, social media-engrossed society we can often become increasingly self-focused and isolated. Isolation has no benefit, that is why it has been used as punishment for ages. Choosing to involve yourself with ethnic communities, faith communities, neighborhoods, yoga in the park…whatever, allows you to be known and participate. Happiness never came from isolation, but is always a by-product of rich relationships.
It is only in community that we can become fully who we are. In isolation we can hide our insecurities, fears, and shame. True, it is scary to risk those things becoming known if we attempt to get involved in community. But the opposite is equally scary. Jefferson Bethke said, “I’d rather take the messiness of community and possible joy than the cleanliness of isolation and sure despair.” We risk being fully known, but we also risk being more fully loved. Being fully loved, in spite of our frailties actually allows us to be whole. I’d say it’s worth the risk. Make your world great by taking that risk to become known in community.
10. Serve your community. Connecting with a community allows you to learn what the needs are so that you can find ways to serve. Serving in ways to improve the world around you has a two-pronged effect: humbling and uplifting. It’s odd how both of those happen together. Humbling is good for us, it allows us to see that we are a small piece in something bigger. Uplifting in that we get to see how our contribution directly affects the lives of real people. Bring greatness to your world by serving the communities around you.
There seems to be less hope for America after this election. It is easy to worry and hold a glum outlook for the future. There doesn’t need to be. We can make the world around us great by taking steps forward in each of these areas. If this list seems overwhelming, then choose one to start with. You can see great things happen when you sow seeds of kindness and giving in the situations around you.
I doubt the capabilities of our President-elect like many of you, and so I appreciate the perspective Brandon Marshall, a N.Y. Jets football player gave, “The thing I like about this whole situation is we have a flawed man leading our country, and I think that’s a good thing because we try to put certain people in certain positions on a pedestal and we expect perfection. That’s not the case. There’s only one perfect man who walked this earth. It gives hope to those who are flawed. People get second chances. I hope he does a great job.”