Yesterday, I followed through on what I have been complaining about other people saying they were going to do but have not. I took action. I let someone, in a position of authority, know that I was not happy about a number of issues. I gave concrete, specific examples of things that all happened recently, within the last month. This was not a knee jerk reaction to something I was angry about. This was a well thought out explanation of what is wrong (in my opinion) and what could be done better. The longer I waited to take action, the less relevant the concerns became. I could see that myself. And, I am sure that if I waited long enough, I would realize the time had passed for doing anything to correct the concerns.
Complaints vs. Actions
Some close to me had told me they would take action on similar concerns. It was quite awhile ago, maybe two years or more, that a course of action was decided upon. Not a promise mind you but a show of support on trying to address common concerns and issues. Yet, nothing has been done. Time moved forward, excuses made. No actions taken. I understand the reasons, but if I also take no action and let things remain as the status quo – I am as guilty as them of complaining and not doing anything about it.
I have been mulling this over for quite some time now. Do I say anything or not? Do I still advocate for change or not? Do I want improvements in the “system” or not? I strongly believe that part of the reasons systems remain broken is that people stay quiet. This happens especially when they feel they have “things” – status, money, power, ranking, etc. – to lose from a system change. So, nothing happens. Mediocrity is allowed to ooze slowly into every crevice of our system.
Waiting through the anger
I waited through the initial anger when things did not seem right. I wrote down my thoughts and kept them. Over the last six weeks, I have revisited my thoughts, revised them, clarified the examples, and hopefully conveyed what I see as some problems – system problems, that not only impact our family but others. A while ago my husband asked me to stop advocating for any other children except our own. But, I have found that is extremely difficult because in doing so I am no better than those people who have been doing that all along. And while I understand advocating for your own child, I do not understand those who do not advocate for others. Yet, I think this is more common. So, I briefly jumped back on the bandwagon of unpopularity to voice concerns to those with legitimate authority. The concerns are system-wide concerns, not individual based concerns.
Part of my decision to take action was a recent conversation I had with my soon to graduate from high school, eighteen year old. He can be very philosophical, introspective, and reflective at times. He asked me after dinner earlier this week, “Mom, what’s it going to take for the system to change?” This question, of course, could apply to any system – our political system, our educational system, our healthcare system, or even our insurance system or our tax system. In our house, we’ve had recent conversations about all of them.
Obstacles to Change
I answered as honestly as I could. “I don’t know,” came my reply. The way I see it, there are several things that prevent systems from changing.
- The people currently benefiting from the system, do not want change. Why would they? Why should they work against something that is benefiting them? Few people would take this chance.
- Those that complain privately and get through what might seem to be unfair, unjust, or untenable situations might want to do something and may even plan to take action, but once their personal situation is resolved, they go forward – no longer wanting to address the situation (which to them is in the past but might still be occurring for others).
- There is always a risk to taking action. Even just voicing a concern sometimes brings retribution. It should not happen, but it does.
- Those that advocate for change get tired. It takes work to change a system. There are many set backs, disappointments, misunderstandings, explanations, and cause for anxiety. It can be exhausting! I know I found it exhausting in the past.
But when I’ve spent close to six weeks mulling over concerns, rereading and rewriting an email so that I convey those concerns as clearly as possible, it is time to do something. So, I took action. I contacted a person who really, due to their position, needs to know of my concerns. For if one does nothing, no one can no longer complain. I do not want to be that person.
I know this post has been esoteric in nature. It has been purposely so. But, I urge all of you, whatever system in which you find yourself a part, to speak out and advocate for change if you see a need for it- not only for yourself, your family, or your loved ones, but all people. We are living in a time when we must speak out for what we feel is right.