The Power of the Ordinary


Have you ever taken issue with something, that at your core, you knew, was unfair or just plain wrong?

Maybe it was a policy issue such as healthcare reform or a human rights issue like poverty.

Whatever it was, it moved you to consider a solution & somehow you knew that if people could just see it, from your perspective, simply put, things would change.

Every day, most of us encounter issues that we find troubling. It is hard to ignore what we see on the news and in the papers. We are inundated with broadcasts of wars, violence, poverty, broken and flawed education and healthcare systems.

I can’t think of a single person, that I have ever known, who hasn’t taken issue with something.

This got me thinking, if so many of us feel so strongly about a need for change, what might prevent us from answering our inner call to action?

I suspect that there is no single answer.

Maybe it’s a lack of time, or perhaps we simply do not believe that a single ordinary individual can really make a difference. Or maybe we just don’t believe that we have it takes.

Whatever the reason, I am writing today to urge you, to begin to view making a difference not just as another item on your  to- do-list to be postponed or opted out of, but as an opportunity to make a real and positive difference in your life and the lives of others.

Many of us may feel that changing the world or even our own circumstances would mean making a full-time commitment. And in a world where there never seems to be enough hours in the day, the idea of spare time is hard to imagine.

But the truth is that we do not have to quit our day jobs or commit our every waking hour to a cause to make a difference. Volunteering can be as varied as the people who donate their time and skills.

For example, CharityGuide.org features volunteer opportunities that require as little as a fifteen minute commitment. And VolunteerMatch.org can even allow a person the flexibility of e-volunteering from home by matching you with a cause in need of a cyber-service volunteer.

But what if a lack of time, is not the issue? What if instead we think it is a waste of time? After all, what could one ordinary person possibly do, to make a lasting difference?

History offers us many examples of ordinary people making an extraordinary difference. From Dr. Martin Luther King to Gandhi. From Mother Teresa to Rosa Parks.

All ordinary individuals who have literally changed history in extraordinary ways.

I don’t want to imagine for a minute, what our lives might be like today without their contributions.

Or a more recent example, John Walsh, an ordinary man, born and raised in Auburn, N.Y. and educated at the University of Buffalo. A businessman, who worked building hotels and spent his spare time with his family.

Pretty Ordinary, right?

But then in 1981, his six-year-old son was abducted and murdered. And everything in his life changed.

In spite of and because of his personal tragedy, he made a decision to make a difference. With the help of others who shared his passion, he created the network television show, Americas Most Wanted.

And today because of this one ordinary man, thousands of dangerous criminals have been apprehended and nearly a hundred missing children have been returned home safe.

Extraordinary.

Then there are those of us who have known all our lives that we wanted to make a difference, but we do nothing because, we don’t think we are qualified to.

We sabotage ourselves with I’m not smart enough, or I’m not articulate enough or why would anyone listen to me? Sound familiar?

Believe me today, when I say, to make a difference, you don’t have to be louder than everyone.

You don’t have to be a trained speaker.

You don’t have to be elected.

You don’t have to be a “born leader”.

You just have to care.

Over the course of the last year, I have felt honored to have had the opportunity, to be asked to speak, about the importance and promise, of funding proven addiction prevention and treatment programs, as well as the devastating effects of the political & social stigmas associated with this disease.

I am not a doctor, nor do I hold a degree in Addiction Studies. I am not a licensed psychologist or a pharmacology expert. But when I get up to speak about, it doesn’t matter.

Not a single person, legislator nor citizen, has ever questioned whether or not I was “qualified” to be an advocate?

Why?

I watched my sister battle addiction. I watched her struggle for sustained sobriety be further complicated by the stigma attached to this disease. I watched her fight for her life. And then, I watched her die. 

Following her death, I took the time to research and educate myself on the facts relating to the disease and the social and political issues that surround it.

The tragedy of my sister’s death, coupled with this knowledge, affords me a unique & effective perspective on the issue. Moreover, it fills me with the courage to speak up and speak out with conviction, passion, and purpose.

I offered you this personal example to make this point.

In advocacy, commitment, passion, courage, and patience are far more valuable virtues than perfection.

To put it simply, Teddy Roosevelt said “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

If you have 15 minutes to spare, to support or work on behalf of a cause you believe in, then you have time to make a difference.

If you have the capacity, to recognize the distinction between what is and what should be, then you are qualified to make a difference.

If you have the desire and the courage to act to change it, probabilities are high, that you are destined to make a difference.

So what are we waiting for?

My message for you today,  is that the change needs us, as much as we need it.

The world needs our skills, it needs our wisdom, it needs our courage, it needs our perspective, our enthusiasm and our faith.

Anne Frank said “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

In tribute to this inspiring “spirit of hope”, I invite you today, to join a new generation of change makers, in proving that with purposeful passion, faith, hope & courage, it is indeed possible for “the ordinary” to make an EXTRA-ORDINARY difference.

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9 responses to “The Power of the Ordinary

  • Tina Reed

    Wow Crystal! Bravo!! You inspire me. By the way, John Walsh is my hero! I lived in Hollywood, Florida where his son Adam was abducted.

    It’s funny, I never felt so passionate about anything before my son became addicted to pain pills. I knew what was happening was wrong. I knew that “certain” Doctors were legal drug dealers. I did not know that I could make a difference. I didn’t know then but I do know now that I CAN make a difference. I know know that my voice matters. The stigma that surrounds addiction is something that I know can change. I know that the more we speak about the disease, the more awareness that addiction receives, the more people that have been affected realize they are not alone. There is no need to be ashamed that addiction has affected a loved one in your family. Most families do have addicts that they love and want to help. Most of them feel alone but they are not.

    Thanks Crystal for you passion!

  • Lorna Efford

    Beautiful and well said! I’ve had people told me before that I need a professional to do what I did and still doing. Someone also was very closed to me have told me that I’m wasting my time and people will just keep doing what they’re doing which is the drug abuse. Because of my love I have for my children including the son I lost through Rx abuse, I had to do something. I’m passionate about my mission. This mission is to help raise awareness in the hope of preventing addiction or death (or both)! A tough role for a full-time working single mom who works to pay fo her mortgage and to support her one and only child left in this world! Raising awareness about these dangerous activity can help save lives! Educating teens, parents, and the public should always be available or everywhere because Rx and illegal narcotics will always be around young people and peer pressure is hard to resist for some or most of the teens out there!

  • Linda C

    this is good I like it.

  • Leah

    I love it Crystal…having a really hard time right now and your words were jus what I needed to hear…I love you, and thank you so much ♥♥♥

  • stacy

    Wow Crystal! That is incredible, I am so proud of you and inspired from reading this! Keep me posted.
    Stacy Bloodworth

  • Jamie Rubino Martin

    Your dedication and desire to make a difference is amazing. I identify with wanting to , but feeling like i am not smart enough or qualified to make a difference i the war on addiction.

  • Leslie Pearson

    This is very inspirational! I look forward to reading your future posts.

  • Arness Rogers

    You are absolutely correct on how we think we’re too busy to take the time out to make a difference. Also, that we’re not smart or qualified enough to do something like this. I would like to speak to teens (boys and girls) to steer them toward the pathway of success. We have so many that are into the world (what’s going on now) that they don’t look to the future. I’m a single mother raising three kids (2 boys and a girl). My oldest son graduated from hight school number 3 out of 164 students. Also, I was out of work for 7 months and he didn’t hesitate to pay help some bills. My other son and daughter are on honor roll. My remedy is to make sure they put GOD first in everything they do, to remember that they have a voice and feelings, and to never stop talking/communicating. To say all this, I don’t know how to get my thoughts together in order to begin to relay it to some other kids.

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