As individuals who form part of a community, where ever we may be, we inherently have certain responsibilities to do no harm and to respect others. Really most of our civic duties could be summarized to never do anything that would purposely harm others. And while following these do-not-harm responsibilities should be more than enough to keep the peace and promote a safe environment to live in, I believe we also have a civic responsibility to actively and positively impact others.
It may be because I have lived abroad—in a country where people actively engage in their communities—that I believe we have a civic duty, to actively contribute to the betterment of our own specific communities. I believe we should care about raising the living conditions of those around us. I believe we should care about issues that do not necessarily affect us specifically. I believe we should be considerate of other people’s struggles, and more importantly, we should do whatever is in our power to fix them.
This week, I was touched by two examples of selfless people acting on behalf of others in their communities. Kelly Jensen is someone that I initially began following on Instagram because of her Utah-famous “Live Lists.” But in the 5+ years that I have followed her, I have been humbled by her courage and initiative to change the world, one small action at a time. This week, she rallied people to stop Jordan’s school district from cutting special needs programs in their high schools. People from all over the world, signed a petition—not particularly because it affected them, but because they understood that there are things that make our communities as a whole better (heck, I signed the petition 3000 miles away! fully knowing it would not change a thing in my life but because it was the right thing to do)—to voice their disagreement with this decision and ask Utah’s education system to keep in place these programs that are vital to some families. I was in awe at how quickly Jordan’s school district retracted from cutting these programs, all because people stood by each other in camaraderie.
The second act that I was deeply touched by was the story about two pianos between a wall. Two neighbors that shared more than a wall. Through the power of music, two neighbors connected and helped heal each other. Emil, a 78 year old, had lost his wife in December and had been alone in his temporary accommodation while his house was being sold. Giorgo was his neighbor, and while they never had met each other, they started to play music through the wall. Though the story has a bittersweet end, it totally portraits my point of selflessly looking to support people in your community.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead
To act and not be acted upon. To be a force of change. To purposefully walk the path of improvement.
Of all the things for which we should feel responsible, I believe the most important one (and really the only one responsibility that will have a transcendental impact once we leave this earth) is to positively impact the lives we touch. So above all of the responsibilities we may have, let changing the lives we come in contact with for the better be the most important one.