The Giver. I remember reading this book by Lois Lowry so long ago, and the initial reaction was of shock, a voice piercing through my normal sense of what novels were, and Lowry being able to change everything I knew about what a story could do once you wee inside.
I loved the way this film exploited the opportunity that each of us have to break against the norm, and make a difference, either in a large way or a small one. I would see challenges to this book repeatedly, see people that would try to sling mud at others that did in fact try to break against the norm of making differences, as you can see, the implications of this story remained with me for a long time, and the connections that it made ran deep. So let’s get into the world that has been happening around us…
There are people that silently devote their time to better the word around them, despite the hurdles that exist and always spring up. A large portion of this blog is devoted to Melinda Duryea, who birthday was a few days ago, and although not much was said or maybe not enough was said, let me expound on what she has done that truly is somewhat short of amazing and is one of many, and let me clarify, very few you have been willing to take so much of their lives and try to make the world a better place.
From getting up at the crack of dawn certain days to set up plans for planting beach grass to restore beach fronts, to late night counting the record of sand crabs in their comeback on the Eastern Shore, to the uncanny ability to always support students in many arenas, from sports, to Wildlife Reserve cleanups, to making the environment better for those that have never stepped outside of their own community, she has been relentless. She is often very quiet about her contributions amid volunteering to do things of beauty, from counting dolphins, to silently studying habitats from one side of the shore to another, yet, without proclaiming her contributions, without as much as a whisper, she pushes forward and continues to add this hour here, move a student towards success there, and continues to open the gap between volunteering for the sake of feeling good to volunteering to allow others to move forward and better the world along with themselves. If ever there was an individual that sacrificed he time for others n the face of uncomfortable weather, odds, or situation look no further than to find Melinda Duryea there to have pushed the restrictions of what is possible to what can be achieved. It seems appropriate to wait a few days after her birthday to recognize her efforts, as they are worth more than celebrating on one day – and certainly deserved to be revisited after her birthday – for she is a stand alone example of what each of us could do to change the world for the better.
I realized in thinking about the countless hours she has contributed that in line with watching The Giver, I might have had the whole story wrong. When I thought the Giver was in the form of the memory keeper, I might truly have his this wrong, in some way the Giver actually was the Receiver, who enabled the actual Giver to be strong in his weakest moment. I would have to agree so has Melinda Duryea done so for those around her. More than a belated Birthday, it would be fitting for you to remind Melinda Duryea, when you see her, thank you for standing among the crowd to change things for the better, not only a great belated birthday wish for her, but a gift she has given to those around her continually.
You often hear people say in voting, seriously? ONE vote will not make a difference. I believe I truly disagree. I have seen one person, a conviction they embody change one, then four then twenty, then set whole tide of tradition ofn it’s head and before you realize it, a change is occurring. This is what everyone should strive to do to better everything around us.
There truly is tragedy all around us, from the issues of more –more – more, found in economies and industry causing such a decrease in environments, wildlife, clean air, clean water, conservation efforts, pollution, and yet, there are saviors that are future generations that can easily be supported and save this movement towards decline.
There is the recent tragedy in Mexico where students in a mass grave have been found, not only shot, but mutilated, at what sees at the hand of police officers that have been turned to corruption. Add the injustices to college students and the misconceptions of protests on both sides, add opportunities for student groups on our own campus that struggle to find a voice and a way to support initiatives they believe in, the constant argument that Starbucks found on every corner and hiding the local coffee entrepreneurs that represent a country rather than a business, and this is a small collection of struggles and conflicts we must try to reckon with in our own lives. The community is reacting in protests that are impacted but their convictions to want something better from their government.
Yet, looking at each of these in a different light, asking ourselves personally, what can WE do to make this better or at least try to put in a more positive light, changes how at first a small portion of people will view an issue, and then how an even larger portion of individuals can go on to suggest ways to turn these negatives into something positive.
While it is hard to see this process, sometimes it is much easier to flow with the bad situations and try to make something positive out of it, and indeed, this takes patience and time, aspects that are hard to swallow at the time. Yet the individuals willing to hang on, ride the negativity out and still provide alternatives, soon enough will prevail with amazing results. This is the reason students need to be dealt the negatives to their plate, and then be pushed and encouraged to come up with alternatives rather than rash lashing out reactions and then the end result being a dead end, nothing more to do. A larger education and ratio of success will result due to this approach, and I have learned that lesson the hard way over countless years, thanks to many students and individuals that went on change many things that at first seemed daunting. In the process it changed myself too.
I look back on the countless food sales, music festivals, Non-Profit benefit events, hours of time spent outside of the regular hours and what do you have? You simply have a growth curve to put selfless on the shelf and bring out experience in scrambling to benefit others, the more vast experiences the more experienced and knowledgable, and I have to say, looking back, there are so many that shaped me to be more optimistic and find A WAY to make something possible and more positive for others as well as slice off something for myself. Often I would find myself self wallowing in wanting something something for myself and finding out – self pity and benefitting something for pretty much gets me to a shorter path, opposed to recruiting others to find an inner strength and ability that helps pull me up – and out to make a difference.
I have to say I am extremely proud of the women and men that were students at one time, and now are the shakers and movers of communities in so many parts of the world. This seems to be the true purpose of education, creating a change and shift in how what we learn with the walls of a school can be actually applied outside of an institution, real world application beyond what our own interests are. In the prices others benefit and we change for the better. As in a student named Alice (last name to be withheld due to staking purposes) – I have seen her grow and change as well, and despite obstacles that she encounters, she had a grid-iron determination and will that can carry her through many a hurdle. At fist I found her impulse to react trigger-happy and slowly, I am seeing her back up before making rash decisions and contemplating before she makes her move.
Life often becomes hectic, becomes hurried, becomes tangled, and yet, the more we pull ourself out of the craziness that seems to be overcome with faster, better, newer, and more – we back out of that and simply take a look – and let ourselves think and contemplate, nothing but a river experience begins to appear amid much craziness. I actually learned that from the very individuals that helped me grow as a teacher, a mentor, an advisor, an educator, and overall an individual. These are the experiences that will follow us through many a struggle and let us reappear victorious.
It is true, sometimes it takes time to realize the good things that surround us, but never realizing it is worse than that time need for it all to soak in 🙂