Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blog Action Day: Why I Care

Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.” - William Arthur Ward

Yesterday was Blog Action Day 2008: Thousands of bloggers uniting to discuss one issue - poverty. Instead of putting up my planned post, I was home nursing what seems to be my ususal post-build cold. I tried an easy run and ended up walking home early to rest and visualize my race.

During that quiet time, I thought a lot about why I care -- about this race, about raising awareness about homelessness, about the larger issue of poverty.

What came up is that, for me, I care because it's all connected - to who I am, to the life I want to live, and to the world in which I want to live it.

My triathlon training and my passion to end poverty are linked. Both are rooted in three of the core beliefs I've written so much about over the last two years:

Nothing changes unless we do.
After running for more than 4 years - even training for 2 marathons - my times didn't change, until my training did. When I decided to change - my training system, my effort, my planning, my perspective, everything else did too.

Some say that poverty will always be with us. Unless, we - both those in power and those in poverty - change, I believe that will be true. But I also know that it doesn't have to be so. Both personal responsiblity and justice-centered systems change have a role to play. Yes, I want folks to pull themselves up by their bootstraps -- but you first have to have access to a boot.

Tiny steps, made faithfully, make a big difference.
Day to day I most often don't see the big improvement I wish I did. My training is very much 2 steps forward, 1 step back, 5 steps forward, 4 steps back, 1 giant leap forward, PLATEAU....2 steps back.....1 step forward.

But, year to year the difference is so, so clear. Reading my training journal from 2005 reminded me of that. Some things were the same: I still hate workout on Friday afternoons. My attitude has a huge affect on my workout for the day. But my confidence, my weight, my times, and the size of my goals were completely different.

I see Genesis Home's work to end homelessness in my hometown through the same lense. Some days Ryan comes home and is absolutely convinced that his work is NOT making a a difference. A child living at the shelter doesn't pass his end of grade tests, a parent gets arrested, a young adult loses her job...AGAIN.

But, then a family moves into a home of their own. A mom goes to college and a Dad opens his own business. A donor comes through with the right gift at the right time. Legislation passes to make more affordable housing available. Change happens.

It's all within us.
If I've learned anything from endurance sports, it's that everything I need, I already have. The ability is within me and I can. There is enough. I am enough.

The interval instantly becomes easier, the moment I remind myself that the air is there. The mile becomes shorter, as a soon as I remember that I've been here before and I've put in the work.

That abundance mentality is a powerful tool for ending poverty, too. Continuing to ask ourselves how much is enough helps free us from the fear-based notion that because I have to get mine, I can't help you get yours. And, knowing that the ability to make change is within us motivates to give, to volunteer, to protest, to write, to vote, to act.