Having a Positive Impact

Wanting to have a positive impact in the lives of many is an admirable objective in life.

Many like to take up the cudgel and go do battle with the dark forces of evil, whether the specters appear in environmental or economic vistas.

Having been among the homeless at one time, I know for certain that the bleak picture painted in the media is not completely correct. Food and political atrocities are major problems, of course, but many people who have what we would consider as absolutely nothing can still be quite happy because they are with family and do not have to depend on material things to sustain a degree of security.

In our western society, it seems the majority have a materialistic attitude, especially the young, where everyone seems more intent of getting the latest iPhone or tablet than helping out the less fortunate. But you have to remember that many of the “less fortunate” are actually living very happy lives unaware that not having these “things” is a deprivation.

Still, wanting to help is admirable. Though most governments and charitable organizations throw money at the problem, the solutions can be achieved much more simply.

I am not talking about campaigning to change societies. Although the social conditions that lead to homelessness and poverty are like some mammoth Gordian knot, progress can be made on a smaller scale without having to move heaven and earth.

As a writer, I could write marvelous copy to draw people’s attention to the issues and the types of solutions that could blah, blah, blah…

As you can tell, that is not my idea of a productive method.

Artists understand better than politicians and lawmakers how to leverage hearts, how to motivate people to DO something rather than sit passively.

I am not saying my works will do any such thing but I can only hope that something I have written will reach a person in need of it.

Yes, that would be nice – like the author in the movie “Lady in the Water” – to know you had an effect.

But I really write because it makes me feel whole.

Sad, I know.

I’m so selfish.

My One Venture into Politics

Many moons ago… but – hey! – who counts in moons anymore, huh?

Before I became a little less naive about such things, I actually thought once of going into politics. I worked on one campaign in my youth and the local organizer admired my enthusiasm.

We talked quite a bit. About politics, of course. And after the victory celebration for our candidate we said our goodbyes with perhaps renewing the acquaintance in the next election cycle.

So, I was a bit surprised when he called me a couple of months later. He invited me to lunch and said he had an interesting proposition for me.

After I arrived at the restaurant, this gentleman said we were waiting for another fellow he had invited along. Seemed he had mentioned me and my enthusiasm for politics to this other person, hence the meeting.

A short time later, he arrived; one of our state senators. We ordered lunch and he outlined his proposition.

It seems there was a district where the representative had recently passed away and they were looking for a fresh, savvy, young man to take on the role.

No, there wouldn’t be any election, per se, as it seemed the district was so heavily saturated with one party that the opposing party was not even going to field a candidate. It would be a waste of time and money.

And they offered me the position. You know, something to wet my whistle on before attempting higher political office.

And I asked about the catch. There’s always a catch, isn’t there?

The senator chuckled and nodded to our mutual friend and said, “This young man catches on quick. I think he’ll go far.”

And the catch was that most the time I could vote any way I wanted on legislation but every so often there would be something come up that they would tell me how to vote.

“And that’s it, huh?” They assured me that was, indeed, it. Just vote the way I was told on a few items and otherwise I could be my own man.

I could have said, “Yes” or that perhaps I would think about it, but I didn’t. I told them “No, I don’t think I could do that.”

My guy said, “But how else are you going to get any of the legislation introduced that you would like to see passed. You can’t do that from the outside, you know.”

Probably true. I said thank you for the lunch and the offer but I would have to pass.

“A man of integrity,” the senator said, “I like to see that.”

I’m sure they found someone else to fill the position and probably before nightfall.

And I have never been sorry for that decision.

If you start compromising your morals to get ahead, you haven’t really gotten ahead.