Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Someone really should...

Patrick and I went to eat lunch today.  As we were walking, I noticed a few things.  As we were walking out of the church, I noticed a little bit of trash on the yard.

"Someone should really pick that up."

As we were approaching a crosswalk, I noticed that the "Push here for walk signal" button was hanging by a wire.

"Someone should really fix that."

Walking by a building, I noticed the windows were pretty dirty.

"Someone should really clean that window.  Ew."

A bit farther down the street, they were working on the sidewalk.  They had a Bobcat with a jackhammer attached to it, and it made it difficult to hear what Patrick was saying.

"Someone should really find a way to make that quieter."

I didn't actually say those things out loud.  I just thought them.  But I've said that plenty.  "Someone really should..."  Not me, of course.  Just someone.  Someone should clean out the refrigerator.  Someone should sweep the floor.  Someone should fill the car up with gas.  Someone should paint this wall.  As I was thinking on these things, a question came to mind: who?  Who should do these things?  The answer is always the same: someone who isn't me.

Consider the dishes in the workroom sink here at the church.  They pile up, even though there are signs that say to clean up your own dishes (You know the signs: "Your momma doesn't work here" or "This kitchen is self-cleaning: clean it yourself.").  They pile up there for two reasons.  First, it's inconvenient to clean them.  That's how they get there in the first place.  But then it's easy to walk by them and think, "Someone really should clean those dishes."  Responsibility for cleaning them belongs to all of us...and as a result most of the time it belongs to none of us.

But we say it all the time!  "Someone really should..."  It's like we think pointing out the need somehow absolves us from action.  "Yes, there's a huge heap of laundry in the floor.  Didn't you hear me?  I said someone should clean it."

Just not me.

Sometimes there's a perfectly legitimate reason not to address them, I guess.  I might not have the expertise or even permission to fix the walk signal button.  I feel confident that if there were a way to make jackhammers quieter someone would have already seen to it (or would they...).  But more often, the reason we don't address the needs in front of us is that it will be inconvenient for us.  I really should have picked up that trash (and I probably will on my way out of the church this afternoon, honest!).

What if someone...is me?

It's like Bigweld is talking to meeeeeeeee!  See a need...fill a need.  In this clip, Bigweld was talking about a process for inventing: seeing a need and then coming up with an idea to fill it.  But what if we applied that more broadly to everyday living?

Radical!  What if, when I saw that a pile of dishes in the sink needed to be cleaned, I...cleaned them.  Or picked up the trash.  Or did the laundry.

What if I applied it even more broadly than that?  Someone should really do something about homelessness.  Or poverty.  Or sex trafficking.  Or climate change.  Or the political climate.  Or...

Listen, I know I'm not superman.  But you don't have to be superman to tackle some of those little things.  Really, it's not going to kill me to wash the dishes in the workroom or toss a load of towels in the washer.  And those bigger issues...I can't tackle them on my own.  But like Bigweld said, maybe my idea will lead to another until...we've done it.  Even if I can't do it, WE can do it if we all decide that someone is us.

See a need...fill a need!  (-Mary Howell, -Bigweld, -Patrick Faulhaber)

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