| SARA ERNEST
PEOPLE TEND TO think they can’t make a difference, so they don’t try. They go about their lives taking care of the bills, walking their dogs and calling their parents a couple times a week, not realizing how little it takes to make a difference.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging anyone for not trying to make a difference. We all have our reasons. I definitely do. Sometimes just getting through the day is such a chore that we don’t have anything left to give. Other situations burn us so badly that we don’t see how we can contribute without being made to feel stupid or worse. It could be that the people around us have no interest in making a change, so we just go with the flow.
One of the things I find fascinating about the human race is our capacity to mess things up. On the flip side of that though, is the type of people who are molded by those mistakes or less-than-ideal situations. Heroes are born out of some really undesirable situations.
I’m not talking about the Wonder Woman or Captain America types of heroes. I’m talking about people like my friend Brent. He was at lunch the week after Michael Sam got drafted into the NFL. He had just settled in for some much anticipated pizza when he overheard a bunch of apparently straight men talking who seemed to have a problem with Sam getting drafted and then kissing his boyfriend on ESPN. Never one to shy away from confrontation, Brent couldn’t take the homophobia and negative comments these men were making and stood up in the middle of pizza joint and said, “You go girl!,” then quietly sat back down. The other patrons in the establishment no longer had anything to say about Michael Sam, his crying or his big gay kiss. Brent’s actions may not qualify as heroic, but they sure made a difference.
Sometimes we run across people and stories that were never intended to really be stories. My partner Lori and I were recently watching a story about a skateboard company that made me sit up and take notice. The piece focused on a man named Will Anderson. Anderson and his business partner Jacob Henley opened a skateboard company that sells 100 percent handmade skateboards in a part of Nashville that they describe as being underprivileged. They call the company Salemtown based on the Nashville neighborhood where their shop is located. According to their website, the goal of their company is simple, “We build handmade skateboards, and employ, train and mentor urban youth in Nashville, Tennessee.”
At the end of the interview, Anderson implied that he didn’t think that what he was doing for the youth he employs was necessarily that big of a deal. He just hired some kids knowing that they may not have another chance at a good job or learning a skill. For the young men who work for him, I think this may be the biggest deal.
It doesn’t always take the strength of Thor, or volunteering as tribute to take your sister’s place at the Hunger Games to change the world. Sometimes all it takes is standing by the courage of your convictions and knowing that no matter how small the effort, if it made a difference to someone, it could very well have changed their world, or even the world.
Author | Sara Ernest
As a lesbian I had a chance to find people who understood my point of view. The best part about this community is that it is large enough to be as diverse as the individuals who make it up.