Look, there’s no way around it: Part of life is accepting that a lot of what happens in the world is outside our control. Some people have taken this to mean that the “majority” are resigned to their fate – that they are willing to tolerate the status quo and despair of the idea of improving the world or society.
Of course this is rather silly when one considers that “as a majority” we’re all active in each other’s daily lives.
In accepting what is outside of our control, a true member of community makes a deal with themselves, and to all those with whom they are connected, to redouble their efforts to influence those things they can change.
Earlier this year, Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes got a call from his wife after yet another tragic mass shooting. As he described it in an interview:
‘My wife called me very emotional and was afraid of taking our son to school. She kept reciting all the recent shootings on the phone, and before we got off, she said, someone must do something about it (she was not suggesting me per se). I got off, and a higher power put a thought in my mind and it was simply: if not me, then who? If not now, then when?’
Blake came to feel that given his success as an entrepreneur, his track record as a leader, and his platform as the owner of a large, well-known company, perhaps it was in his control to do something about the problem of gun violence inside or outside of his community.
Was he delusional to think he could solve the problem all by himself? No. Did he think it would be easy or simple or happen all at once? No. But he did think he had at least some power to make a difference, and so he got to work.
First, he and TOMS committed $5 million to groups on the ground fighting to reduce gun violence (which happens to be the single largest corporate donation ever for that cause). But he did not stop at simply giving money. He also built a tool that made it possible for every single American to go to TOMS.com and fill out a quick form that sends a free physical postcard to their congressional representative asking for just one thing: universal background checks for anyone buying a gun (something that 90% of Americans support). And then Blake went on an active, exhausting media tour to spread awareness of this tool, launching it on The Tonight Show and many other outlets. In less than five days, more than half a million citizens participated. Tens of thousands more are going to TOMS.com every hour.
Will universal background checks stop every school shooting and end gun violence? Of course not. Even if common sense gun reform legislation is passed, will it be entirely because of this campaign? No, obviously not. But this campaign will help and it will make things better. It has the potential to make a little bit of difference and that’s enough. Especially if other people – or rather, we – follow its lead.
It’s about making a difference when we have the ability to make a difference, about reallocating our energy from fruitless anger or self-pity and focusing it instead toward productive ends. It’s about being strategic and empathetic. Life is short, and the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.
That’s what Blake and TOMS shoes are doing, and more power to them.
now we need to step up in Canada!! It’s time to change the system.
By Brian Nadon