* Michelle Thoughts

Intentional Change

we must be the change we wish to see in the world, gandhi

This image was actually a design I used in my job last year when we made student service day t-shirts. When I had my “farewell party” of sorts, my former staff and students all wore the shirts and covered up a key letter with tape to make it say “be the Chang,” which was very endearing. Anyway…

This is another quote for my Quotes & Images series that means a lot to me. It emphasizes how we cannot be just hopers, wishers, and dreamers, but we must also act. And it’s not about getting other people to change, it’s about starting with ourselves; demonstrating what’s possible in hopes that others will catch on. Because if we are not willing to make the sacrifices for a better tomorrow ourselves, how can we ask someone else to do it?

The quote also has a convicting, personal note to it. I usually think of it in terms of big picture, world-changing things but it’s also relevant to the “smaller” stuff. Have you ever witnessed another person complaining about how someone else should stop doing this or that, when ironically, the very behavior they are criticizing is one that they regularly do themselves? Do you ever wonder if you Image credit: GirlfromParis.tk (tumblr via pinterest)do this? I do… I’m also curious if there is a correlation between the negative comments we make (or thoughts we think) about others and our own short-falls that are somehow related but that we’re not aware of. I’m trying to pay more attention when I get frustrated with peoples’ behaviors and ask myself honestly if I am not also guilty of similar shortcomings. As it says in Mathew 7: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Kind of harsh words. But sometimes we need to hear them. So here’s to more introspection, self-awareness, and working on ourselves before criticizing others. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be less critical and more encouraging of others. Science Daily reports:

“researchers found a person’s tendency to describe others in positive terms is an important indicator of the positivity of the person’s own personality traits. They discovered particularly strong associations between positively judging others and how enthusiastic, happy, kind-hearted, courteous, emotionally stable and capable the person describes oneself and is described by others.”


5 thoughts on “Intentional Change”

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. It looks like we are similarly dedicated to service in the community…although it looks like yours takes a much more international path! Very exciting!

    I love the t-shirt that you had made; that quote is such an important one to remember. But it’s easier said than done. I feel like a lot of my students believe in this on a hypothetical level but have a hard time actually integrating community-based work into their daily lives. Have you seen this? Any tips for combatting it and to moving people from understanding the issues/problems to making this work a way of life?

    1. Hi Zapoura! Thanks for your comment. Yes, I think we do share a similar commitment. I dream of some day creating an organization that encourages people (Americans) to become more involved, active, educated, inspired…
      As for your questions, I think learning to care about issues and wanting to understand problems is the first step. Some people would rather not think about the world outside of their bubble. But unless the issues are personal, meaning you are personally affected by their outcomes (either directly or, perhaps more often, because someone you know is a part of that community), then you aren’t as likely to fight for change or sustain a lasting battle. In my experience, for students of “privilege,” the personal connection often comes from direct service, service-learning trips, and things like that because they don’t have much chance to interact with different communities otherwise.
      I just read a book (really cheap on Amazon/kindle) called Building Powerful Community Organizations by Michael Jacoby Brown, which talks about ways to get folks to take “the next step” in community change. Where I used to work, we always had service-related leadership positions, committees/clubs, and events available for students to get involved in. Sometimes all it takes is a mentor suggesting that they would be good at/enjoy doing such-and-such for them to give it a try. More often than not, students that got plugged in where their interests and skills were helpful, got “hooked.”
      Anyway, that’s my two cents. Would love to hear more of your thoughts!

  2. I think I do tend to point out the faults in others that are the same glaring problems with which I need to deal in my own life. Also, you’re right–small things do matter and can add up to big differences. Keep up the good work!


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