Making a difference



duane highleySimple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

— traditional Shaker melody

You may have noticed — we’re getting a new president.

There has been plenty written about the pros and cons of this transition. I will not add to that discussion (for which you can thank me later), but I will say this: each one of us has more power than the president when it comes to making a difference for our family, friends and neighbors. Yes, Washington D.C. has its power, but each one of us can make a real lasting difference. How? Help someone today in your neighborhood.

Across this state there are tremendous needs, yes, but those needs come with tremendous opportunity. For example, I recently decided that I wanted to improve my swimming skills. For the first time in decades (many decades) I walked out onto the pool deck to meet my swimming classmates and my new swimming coach. To say I felt intimidated would be an understatement. There is nothing like standing barefoot in a swimsuit to humble you. After the first night’s class, my wife asked, “How’d it go?” I replied that, of everyone in the class, I had the greatest opportunity for improvement!

If you think your community is not yet perfect, if you think there are problems that need to be fixed, if you have a vision of what could be, then who better than you to begin a movement to make it happen? Who better than you to take the first step?

You don’t have to have the ultimate answer to be effective, and you don’t have to mobilize a crowd. You can make a difference, a real, lasting difference, with just one other person. In fact, that might be the best way to make a difference. Let this be your “simple gift” to humanity. Pick someone and make their day better. Anyone — a friend, a neighbor, a family member or just a random person. You could buy them a cup of coffee, or pick up their newspaper, or bake them some cookies, or rake their leaves or write them an encouraging note. You could volunteer to read to a child or to walk someone’s dog. Imagine your neighborhood if we all were to do that, even if just for one day. We have the power to make the world a better place, each one of us. It is within our grasp.

Are you dreading the family holiday gathering because of past differences? Then perhaps you can take the lead in reconciliation. This would be a great gift to your entire family. Why wait another year?

Ultimately, our success as a society will be determined more by how we conduct ourselves in our homes and in our communities than by who we send to the White House. Let’s start this here, today, in Arkansas. This holiday season, we can all do our part to promote peace on earth and goodwill toward men, one person at a time. A touch, a hug, a smile, a nod — these are simple gifts. As we recognize the end of 2016, let that be our collective “cooperative difference.”