‘Be a humanizing force’

One of the forces constantly prompting me to be a better person is the ever-growing body of TED talks. I recently listened to a talk by Courtney Martin, which she delivered in D.C. in December. It’s ostensibly about feminism and what it means to her as a 30–year-old (putting her at the leading edge of my generation, the Millennials). But it’s really a synthesis of important wisdom she has acquired about social change.

The first wonderful argument Martin delivers is that while many describe our generation as apathetic, we’re actually overwhelmed. We were raised to have ambitions of saving the world, and we’ve discovered we don’t know how to begin.

So how do we begin? The most important thing we can do with our lives, Martin says, is to be a humanizing force in the systems we’re a part of. How do we sustain ourselves and avoid burning out? By functioning on two levels:

  1. “We really go after changing these broken systems of which we find ourselves a part.”
  2. “We root our self-esteem in the daily acts of trying to make one person’s day more kind, more just, et cetera.”

In many ways, she says, addressing our generation, life is about “acting in the face of overwhelm.”

What are the systems at work in Lancaster County where you can be a humanizing force, acting out of love and care even though the problems are overwhelming?

Listen to Courtney Martin’s talk