I heard years ago that “either you are part of the problem or part of the solution”.
It’s very easy to complain. Most of us complain about something, maybe more than one thing. Complaining is a way of saying “I don’t like this. It’s not right with me.” If all one does is complain, however, nothing really happens. If you want to see what you are complaining about be different, you have to be willing to act.
That is where most people stop. It takes energy to act and many people don’t actually want to expend energy. They want someone else to expend energy. Then, maybe, they might “help”. We have all been asked to donate money, to sign a petition, to send a letter or make a phone call. These days, with the internet, you can do one or more of these things with just the click of a key. It takes a bit more time and effort to go out and stand on a corner collecting signatures, or hand out flyers, or take a survey. It can take a lot of time and effort to go to meetings, or run a meeting, or organize an event. Sometimes, even with a great deal of effort, what you would like to change is so deeply entrenched that you can meet with enormous resistance, even backlash, and with some not so pleasant reaction. In times past, people have been killed standing up for what was right. That is the ultimate sacrifice.
Acting requires a kind of courage. It means that you are willing to put yourself out, go beyond your comfort zone, take some risk and take a position in a public manner. It’s so much easier to stay home and complain.
If you want something to change, you can start by speaking out for that change. You can live as if the change you seek is important to you. That means that you have to live with integrity because if you do not walk the talk then no one will see you as someone who has a right to speak. We don’t like hypocrites. If you want to make something be different, you have to find ways for that difference to show up, to emerge. If you don’t formulate a plan, if you do not have an approach that others can comprehend, you will not be seen as being serious. It’s easy to say, “I stand for change” and then wait for it to happen. It isn’t so easy to write an article that gets published, go to Congress to talk to your representatives, work towards the passing of new legislation, raise money for your cause, get the idea out to many others. Still, we hear every day of single individuals, working alone, who have changed something significant in our society. We also know that two people, such as parents who have lost children, or small groups of people like workers who have been harmed by their employers’ policies, or larger groups of people who see something that is not good in our society and band together to change it, have also made an impact.
If you do not like something, find ways to dig into what’s wrong, write about your findings, attend conferences, seek out people who might agree with you, research the work of others, risk being disliked, judged or even threatened. Take a stand. Do what you feel is best. Hold the example in your own life. Walk the talk.
Then, when you criticize something, people will hear your voice as being one that carries seriousness and weight. They will consider your message more carefully, they will be more willing to join in your cause, crusade or goal. You can do it. You can motivate others to go in a different, better direction. But not if all you do is sit at home and do nothing but complain. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Better yet, BE the solution!