Recently I discovered the poem Stubborn Ounces by author, poet, and psychologist Bonaro W. Overstreet. It captures perfectly the way I am choosing to act in my life. And it captures the spirit of active hope – and why it’s so important to understand the impact of our choices and our behaviors on our collective future.
Stubborn Ounces by Bonaro W. Overstreet
(To One Who Doubts the Worth of
Doing Anything If You Can’t Do Everything)
You say the little efforts that I make
will do no good: they never will prevail
to tip the hovering scale
where Justice hangs in balance.
I don’t think I ever thought they would.
But I am prejudiced beyond debate
in favor of my right to choose which side
shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.
Adding your weight to the future
How can I bring “stubborn ounces” to the future I’d like to see for the generations that follow me?
The UN has declared a code red for humanity. In fact, there are flashing warning signs on climate, hunger, social justice, and how we structure our economy. The way we have been acting, leading, and organizing in the last 100 + years has caught up with us. We are now facing the consequences of our past decisions.
Last week I wrote about the need to change our minds in order to change everything. Over the last two years, I have noticed I’m accelerating the questioning and clearing of deep background assumptions I have been taught and held tightly for much of my life.
Now I often find myself asking: Is this practice, thought pattern, or habit healing, and regenerative – or is it harmful and degenerating?
This question scales well, so sometimes I address it to the way I live my life. At other times, I apply the question to the individuals and organizations I’m currently consulting with. Sometimes, I ask the question as I examine the background assumptions shaping how leaders and politicians act, resist and take positions on issues.
A simple question like this, one that we can hold in our minds, can be a wonderful way to become more conscious of our actions. A core question like this one can also help us examine the ripple effects our actions have on the quality of our own lives, on other people, and on our community as a whole.
I invite you to reflect on the “stubborn ounces” of the weight you’re choosing to place on the quality of the future we’re creating for all those who will come after us. I’d like to know if you have any core questions that help you do that?