I was humbled the other night. My husband and I were guests at a dinner party along with some of the smartest, most active and accomplished people in Seattle. Among our companions were two women who, unintentionally, sent me home feeling rather inferior.
The first of these is long-time Seattle television anchor, Susan Hutchison, currently chair of the Washington State Republican party. The second is Lisa Carlson, best recognized by some as the wife of Seattle media personality and political influencer, John Carlson, yet a powerhouse in her own right. She is extremely active in the Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute, whose mission is to, “recruit and train leaders in Washington State that are committed to the principles of freedom, security, entrepreneurial free enterprise, and a return of conservative principles of governance.”
These women, like me, have been devastated at election results and trends in Washington State over the last few cycles. Yet, unlike me, they have stepped into the breach and are putting in hours and effort to foment change. Disheartened as I am with the national Republican Party I am opting out, while they are channeling their frustration into increased focus in the state arena.
I assuaged my guilt by reminding myself of a talk I once heard from the principal of an east coast girl’s high school. Heavily involved in the community, she knew that there was a continuous stream of families dealing with illness or troubled marriages, in mourning after a loved one’s death or facing other difficulties. This woman watched as friends of hers stepped forward with a casserole, drove extra carpools or filled in with the myriad tasks that overwhelm those in crisis. She felt badly at doing none of these things despite her sympathy for those in need.
She then shared an epiphany she had. This principal realized that she was wrong to compare herself with others. She wasn’t ignoring other people’s pain; she was using her unique talents and abilities to help in ways best suited to her personality. Knowing so many people through her position, she served as a resource center, introducing individuals to others whose skills they needed. Utilizing her extensive experience with youth, she was a listening ear and compassionate advisor to families having trouble with their teenagers. She enjoyed researching solutions to problems and disliked cooking; why should she judge herself by how many suppers she provided, no matter how necessary and appreciated they were?
Politics is a tremendous blessing. Deciding issues through voting booths is massively better than doing so with brute force. Yet, for me, the more aware I am of what goes on behind closed doors, the more disillusioned I become. I am grateful that Susan and Lisa are fighting that fight, but it isn’t for me. I hope that articulating my views helps them to do a more effective job, but I am not going to join them in the trenches.
What I hope I can do is to change hearts. If my writing and speaking can encourage others to devote themselves to their children’s upbringing and education, provide strength for people to press through disappointment while striving to build an income stream and/or hearten couples to dedicate themselves to their marriage despite rocky shoals, I will be satisfied that I am making my contribution. We all have a need to give to others and to our community. How fortunate we are that by creating us with infinite variety, God grants us many varied avenues for doing so.
Am I rationalizing or reasonable?
What’s your unique contribution? Tell me in the comment section below