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Quiet desperation

Whatever your faith tradition, the U.S. culture this time of year is filled with celebrations and parties. The year is winding down while colorful lights push back the winter darkness. We are waiting, waiting for the shortest day of the year to be past, waiting for a new year with its possibilities.

Winter Lights

Yet, in this season of waiting and hoping for new possibilities, I still hear voices of resignation. People voice resignation to events around us that are out of our control, in our organizations, families, and the world. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”

And yet, we get to choose. A colleague reminded me that only 10% of our organization life comes to us through formal channels. The rest comes through informal interaction. In those information interactions, we get to take responsibility for ourselves, our behavior, our relationships, our development, our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

I ask myself and challenge you to do the same, “What am I doing to develop my capacity to be authentic and present? Am I willing to interrupt my routine to reflect and then be proactive in my life? Am I willing to take responsibility for my actions, thoughts, and physical environment?”

As individuals, we can choose to contribute – appreciate – give freely, or we can choose to hoard – criticize – take. We can act to begin ending the cycle of resignation and desperation. We can act to take a walk, read an article or book, and offer a word of encouragement to those around us. We can be the light that helps to push back the darkness. We can be the change we wish to see in the world.

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