As the president of one of my old college groups, I often joked, “we succeed as a team and we fail as me.” While I was more expressing bitterness towards the fickle nature of group politics, like all jokes, a bit a truth made it stick. At the time I hadn’t completely embraced the sentiment. I was still too focused on trying to change the minds of others or changing our circumstances.
Only by looking back and reflecting upon my success and failures did I finally come to realize my mistake. I succeeded not through convincing others or manipulating the environment, but in altering my personal actions and attitudes. Retrospectively, most headaches resulted from banging my head against a wall. After taking a step back before knocking myself unconscious, I realized the wall would not move, but I could still discover a way around it.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Frankl
As a country we keep banging our heads against the wall. In 2014, 15% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing. Our elected leaders blame each other for the nation's ills and we blame them for our own. The narrative of blame, scandal, and corruption is what makes the 24/7 news cycle so depressing. No one accepts responsibility.
“One of the greatest reasons why so few people understand themselves, is, that most writers are always teaching men [and women] what they should be, and hardly ever trouble their heads with telling them what they really are," (Mandeville). We’re imperfect; we wish problems would fix themselves; we’re impatient; we fall prey to idealism and cynicism; we let tensions boil over in the region before doing something about it. We could be doing more.
Learning from the failings of our government (and our own personal failures) we at St. Louis Strong know the buck stops with us. Although we are attempting to change hearts in order to bring about an environmental change our goal is to become a model that others can follow. Let us start by changing our narrative. Let us speak of ourselves in an honest and empathetic way.
At St. Louis Strong, we acknowledge ourselves culpable for the current status of the city and county. What are we going to do about it? Change who we are by accepting responsibility and thereby—step by step—change the region. Come join us.
“We're not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” ~ Campbell