In our society currently, it can feel like one is simply screaming out into the abyss with most things they try ⏤ without seemingly any difference or meaningful response.
However, I want to tell you that you can and do make a real difference each day.
Simple things make a difference
There have been two moments this week, personally, that I realized that I make subtle differences in someone’s day.
The first happened just yesterday.
It is not uncommon to hear a child crying in the hallway in an elementary school. Near the beginning of the year, homesickness can really get to kindergarten and first-grade kids at times.
I happened to hear that old familiar cacophony of developing vocal cords expressing sadness while walking the halls. And I traced it back to a little, crying boy sitting outside his classroom.
In a nutshell, he was homesick.
Now, all I did was ask him what was wrong and offer him some words of encouragement. However, those little things made him stop crying. And the next time I passed by his classroom a few minutes later, he was back inside and participating.
I think he, like many of us, simply wanted his current pain acknowledged and treated as something real.
Difference is not one monumental push
If I hand you a sledge hammer and tell you to break up a block of concrete, you’ll hate me, but you’ll consider it to be not entirely impossible.
If I hand you a sledge hammer and then point at a mountain and tell you that I want you to completely break it up for me, you’d probably either simply throw it down and walk away or use it on me instead due to the sheer impossibility of my request.
Yet, every day most of us are expecting ourselves to tear down mountains with inadequate tools, and in way too little time.
We make a difference little by little each day
Most of you may know that I work as an early literacy tutor during the day now.
And I can tell you that illiteracy is a much bigger problem than you’d ever think.
Every day, I and many other tutors and educators across the nation are facing the same mountain of illiteracy in our schools with a sledge hammer. Mostly because that’s all we’re really funded to have.
Each day, we’re trying to chip away at that. Every single day I’m in the building I’m trying to help students even just understand one more word than yesterday, be able to read one more sentence without help and to be able to keep up with the other kids in their class.
How big is the mountain? Some third-graders I’ve assessed can only read eight words per minute. At their age, they should be reading about 100 per minute.
Yet, you must keep chipping away
I know I’ve painted a daunting picture. And I’m not going to undo that here.
Every single one of us should be concerned and ashamed for how many kids have been left behind in literacy development in the United States. There is no other way to put that. We are failing as a nation.
That’s a fact.
However, while that is a mighty hard pill to swallow, here’s the bright side of it all: You have no idea how rewarding it is when a student DOES read that one extra word or sentence. Or the joy of seeing a student go from eight words per minute to 30, and then jump again to keep doubling that number over the year.
Those are the moments you feel the mountain move. But they are the product of daily little strikes against it that build into something bigger.
Don’t give up
I say all this to simply say: Don’t give up.
You may not see the impact of the little things you do, but every thing we do has the chance to be that final little strike that even breaks off a chunk from someone else’s mountain that they have been working at or dealing with by themselves for years.
The greatest achievements start out with the smallest choices.
Today, choose not to give up on yourself or anyone else ⏤ regardless of whether you see the progress your efforts are making in the moment or not.
There is Help
Vivent Health offers fentanyl test strips, so that users can determine the presence of fentanyl in other substances. For more information, call 262-657-6644.
Kenosha County Public Health also offers free training and supplies of Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/KCNarcan or call 262-605-6741.
The Kenosha County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Center may be reached from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at 262-764-8555.
The Kenosha County Crisis Hotline operated is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, at 262-657-7188. Kenosha Human Development Services operates the hotline.
Ep. 13: The problem of being overly positive – Inside the Mind of Daniel Thompson
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