The title of this post is the next question in the 50+ page “life review” that I am completing as part of my coaching certification program.
What a loaded question. Since it’s not one of the ones with the radio dial buttons for “yes” or “no,” I think it’s time to put into words the whirlwind of thoughts that I have been having on the subject.
Yes I have concerns and worries about my community, both the local and the online one. I’ve been asking myself a lot these past months why, when I’ve identified some distasteful (to me) elements possessed by the culture of these two separate but connected communities, I opt to step back in retreat over stepping up to make a difference.
I think I’ve figured it out. It’s like that old lightbulb joke – about how many therapists it takes to change a lightbulb?
Just one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.
I think the community wants to change in the way that I want to lose weight. Like magic, and overnight, without actually having to sacrifice anything it enjoys or put in any long term effort into the hard work and sweat it’s going to take to build a new set of habits.
The community likes to say that it is inclusive the way I like to order a salad when I eat with people, but take a spoon to a jar of nutella when nobody’s watching.
I think the community leaders are those who once felt like they could make a difference – like they could either reinforce what they loved about it, and/or make changes to help create a better environment for themselves and the ones they care about.
Problem is that once they succeed, they think their work is finished. Just like I thought I was all set when I lost 80lbs and thought that I’d never have to wear anything larger than a size 12 again.
I was wrong.
In order for the community to be better, it has to never feel like it already is.
Yeah, I have concerns about the community.
But I don’t think I’m necessarily any better than anybody else who ever thought they could make a difference, succeeded in making a difference, and then stopped asking “what more needs to be done?”
I’d love to think that I am immune to the corruption and complacency that power and popularity seem to have on so many of our recognized leaders. In politics, in religion, in workplaces, and even in sex positive, polyamorous, and queer communities – we see people who had the best intentions get sidetracked by greed or become intentionally blind to the experiences of others.
How do I know I’d be any different?
I was reminded of something I learned in school – about George Washington and how he had said something upon the completion of his second term that led to a 150 years of Presidents that move aside after 2 terms before an actual constitutional amendment was made to enforce it.
I went to look it up and ended up on a page full of quotes about term limits…some of which seemed similar in theme to the aforementioned whirlwind of thoughts in my head:
The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it. — T.B. Macaulay
You will always find those who think they know your duty better than you know it. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
If the way to do good to my country were to render myself popular, I could easily do it. But extravagant popularity is not the road to public advantage. –John Adams
I don’t think my concerns over community are new or unique, and I don’t think that they’ll never be addressed, nor do I think I am powerless to address them.
I think when the community is ready, it will seek out the types of leaders and organizers it needs to make those changes. And I hope it never stops trying to be better.