The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
View From The Handlebars 

Be the Change You Want to See in Others


If I remember right, this is a statement most recently connected with programs like Challenge Day and Sidney High School’s Unified Raiders.

It might sound soft and all goody-feelie, but it has a lot of impact. It also has a lot of current relevance.

Somehow, we have become a society where we are treated right, or we are offended. What happened to our great-grandparents is as important as what happened to us 10 minutes ago. The middle ground is increasingly hard to find.

I’ve had discussions with friends and co-workers about the state of affairs. Sometimes, the response is “Forrest that’s the problem. You’re thinking with logic, being an idealist. That doesn’t work in today’s society.”

I’d like to say that commentator is wrong. I’d like to say at some point we will all wake up from a bad dream. The reality is this isn’t about waking up from a dream. We could admit we need to wake up to how much control we have. The control isn’t with an iron fist, or rewriting history. It is with how we respond to what is presented to us.

Sidney High School’s Unified Raiders had a mantra recently, say late last year before normal changed, on how to view the world and what happens. It is a simple approach, one more of us need to apply.

“Be the change.”

Think about it. We, societally, not just Sidney, can find hurt and poor decisions at about every turn. There are people who appear content as the “angry young man,” and others who couldn’t be upset if their favorite dog died. Job vs Peter’s early days, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away vs, let’s settle this in the alley.

But neither fully addresses the issue.

What if we allow ourselves to be idealists enough to be part of the change? What if in identifying something in society that doesn’t fit, or should have never been accepted, we use that moment as a starting point to move toward where we ought to be? The hard part is pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

Be the change. Take it a step further. Be the change you want to see in society. If you live in a region where racial tension is common, do you make an effort to be welcoming? Consider the education you would get regardless if the other person is of a different race or just a different cultural background.

You sit down over lunch or a coffee with no agenda except to listen and occasionally interject a question that admittedly may come across as a little innocent. Innocent is ok if you are willing to learn from the other person. By the time you’re considering dessert you might learn you’re not as different as you thought. Too often we rely on the few minutes of news briefs we get from our favorite source without admitting many of these sources can only provide a snapshot of reality. They are a step in the chain of the parlor game of “Telephone” with each stage editing the process.

That is where each of us has at least limited control. We can choose to accept what we are told, or we can be part of the difference. Each day, each moment, each confrontation, is our choice how it plays out.


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