Changing the World...
The Story of My Struggle

I have been struggling for most of my life on changing the world. It started in the 60s with the civil right movement. I have mentioned in other articles that everyone back then knew that we would achieve changes in our American society via federal laws addressing racism. It was only a matter of a short period of time. While we were not going to make racists into ethically good people, we were going to change federal laws to deal with racism in America. And we did.

Those were the simplier and less complicated days of my youth. Today, the vast array of needed social changes in the States still include racism, but sexism, homophobia, climate change, and poverty still need to be addressed far more than they have been.

Therefore, I have written and taught about the need for change for years. I am in my early 70s and still working on these issues. I am committed to changing the world. However, I am caught between calling for addressing these social issues and seemingly becoming like the radical right.

To exacerbate my catch-22, I detest the pompous demeanor of many of those that I hold in contempt on one or more of those issues. This group of self-absorbed dissenter is people like Putin in Russia or Cameron in the UK. In addition to those overseas, there is a long list of the radical-right in the States, which includes: Palin, Bachmann, Cruz, Rowe, Paul, Ryan, and those that make up the birthers and tea party, Then there are the plain old republicans that cannot standup to the radical right like Boehner and McConnell. They are already wrong publically generally, but they demonstrate that they do not have the courage to denounce extremism on their right.

Nonetheless, I have argued my point repeatedly in spite of being written-off as some liberal, communist, or socialist. In addition, at 71, who cares what I might think? However, while dissing the dissenting right and not wanting to appear to act like them, I happened to come across something that Steve Jobs said,

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? We make tools for these kinds of people. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Finally, I found someone who addressed my wanting to state the truth without acting like some self-appointed divine messenger. Parenthetically, Jobs did the same thing with another of my catch-22 issues. I could not understand how spending a month in Myanmar/Burma researching human rights issues in that country changed my life. My doctor told me that I had seen the light. However, I could not explain why I had seen the light, but Steve Jobs could. He had given a commencement address about connecting the dots, which I had used his speech in articles over the past two years. While I agreed with his contention, but I missed how his message applied to my asking why until just a couple weeks ago.

In this particular case about being outspoken on social issues, Steve Jobs put into words my seeing things differently than some others. I did not have to worry about coming over as some crazy, misfit, rebel, troublemaker, and his list goes on. Jobs does not want you or me to just "sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written." What Jobs did for me was not to make me start again...I would not have stopped no matter what. However, he inspired me to do more and without the haunting issue of getting my message out without worrying about what some might think.

Then Jobs adds a postscript with these assuring words, "...the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Think different

Apparently, Apple also thinks differently.

It is uplifting to think that Steve Jobs wants change. He said, "I want to put a ding in the universe." While I only want to change the world, Jobs wanted to change the universe. Even more interesting then both of us wanting to change things, he changed things enormously. It is reassuring that I was not stepping out into the world looking too presumptuous if Jobs wanted "to put a ding in the universe."

 Jobs put a ding in the universe by connecting the dots.

Jobs put a ding in the universe by connecting the dots.

As I look back upon my life, I need to address some critical issues if I am going to have any impact upon the world. This world needs more people who want to make positive changes. I would like to rally the troops in the battles necessary for change. We need to begin by changing our mindset. I was doing that with wrestling with not appearing some old 71-year old pushing his social agenda of change. We are here on earth for an all too brief moment. Act now. Carpe diem.

You and I need to be the captains of our own ships. Having someone else steer our ship by running our lives is putting all too much in someone else. What if that other person is wrong and not even be a good first mate let alone a captain of his or her ship? Longfellow wrote these words as he could see the Civil War upon the horizon a dozen years after penning this poem.

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee.
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, -are all with thee!

In addition to Longfellow and Jobs, Confucius wanted people to get up and do what was necessary. Longfellow, Jobs, and Confucius wanted people to act. He said, "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." Often we get excited about something. We start all excited and then run out of steam...and stop. Instead of stopping, keep moving.

Perseverance is linked to moving; it is essential. If things out there slow you down, disappoint, or discourage you, do not give up. Persevere. I will be honest with you several weeks ago, I was upset about plans that I had for the future. I just could not believe some of the disconnects that seemed to have occurred. My hopes and dreams seemed to have been adversely affected. Late one evening while writing, I came across some material on the Internet regarding Steve Jobs. Within several minutes while staring his words, I became renewed. In that process, I recalled something Confucius said. Master Kong stated, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

Finally, help others. One of the disciples of Confucius asked him, "Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?" Confucius answered, "How about 'reciprocity'! Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."

I hope to see you out there making this a better world....

This is Steve Jobs' commencement address.

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Confucius Said


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