Pogo, a cartoon character created by cartoonist Walt Kelly, famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” While there are “enemies” to our success and security, beyond who we are, much of our struggle is of our own creation. In our daily lives and in our community, many of our struggles come from our own actions. We can’t blame others. Change is a reality of all of life but how we respond is in our control.
Each day brings to us new challenges that we must deal with. That is true on a community basis as well as on an individual basis. We need to be able to respond in a way that moves us forward in the best direction.
We rob ourselves of great opportunity when we are not willing to think “outside of the box.” While what worked in the past may have been good for its time, it may not be adequate for today’s challenges. I am reminded of two men fishing around a pond. The older fisherman noticed the younger throwing back about every other fish. The younger fisherman would catch a fish, hold it up to his hand, and if bigger throw it back, and if smaller keep it. The older man asked the younger man why he was making the selections he was making. The younger man replied, “It is because I only have a nine inch frying pan.”
We run the risk of robbing from our future when we are not willing to adapt to the changes around us. We have to challenge the restrictions to allow for the growth and change that will bring a brighter tomorrow. There comes those times that we need a “larger frying pan.” What has always worked may need to be changed for the new world we find ourselves in.
Too many times we are guilty of focusing on the problem instead of the solution. Of convincing ourselves of all the reasons we cannot solve a problem instead of seeking to find the ways we can. Our refusal to let go of the past and seize the future may block the way forward.
This doesn’t mean that everything has to change. But rather we need to be selective in what we hold on to and what we reach for.
One has to be willing to fail at some times in order to find what we can accomplish. A little boy was throwing a ball up and swinging a bat at the ball when his father walked up. The boy said, “Watch me, I am hitting them a mile.” As his dad watched, the son tossed the ball, took a swing and missed. He yelled “Strike one.” He tossed the ball again, missed again, and yelled “Strike two.”
“Don’t worry” he said, “it only takes one hit to get the job done, and I am going to really smash this next pitch.” He threw the ball up, swung and missed again. It was strike three. The boy turned to his Dad, “Gee I must be a pitcher.” One key to the future of growth is be open to seeing ourselves and others in new ways.
Another key to success is the willingness to try. It may not turn out the way we first imagined but we may find another way that is even better. The key is to be open to the possibilities.
Take a mental inventory of your life. While many things we treasure are still a part of our world, change has come to some areas for all of us. And what is true for individuals is true for communities. Are we willing to try a better way? Are we willing to risk in order to gain?
Many times we don’t have to look any further than the mirror to see who the “enemy” is. Pogo spoke with a lot of wisdom. We need to accept responsibility for what we can do. We need the courage to act.
Change is inevitable. How we respond to it is our responsibility. The future we leave those who follow us will be shaped by how we live today.