“But will it make a difference?”
“Do you think you’ll actually change anyone’s mind?”
“You’d be better off just accepting it. You’d feel better and healthier.”
These are the voices anyone who has ever tried to make some sort of difference in the world has heard.
I hear them a lot. Sometimes, very often, they’re in my own head.
I’m a marketer by trade, and so I tend to think these questions are very logical. It’s very easy to make a lot of noise if you want as a marketer… but are you actually making people interested in what you’re selling? That’s much harder.
And so, when I tried doing a crazy project to support Israel or when I worked with people to create a project where we told the world “I Have a Therapist” or even in my blogging, I feel sometimes, I wonder sometimes… am I preaching to the choir?
It sure seems like it.
Israel is the most polarized topic in the world. Can one project, no matter how successful, actually make a difference? Can blogging make a difference?
I wondered this as I started to track, like a good marketer, the sharing of my recent post about “Second Abusers,” the people who attack abuse victims for speaking out publicly about their pain and the people who pained them.
I saw that it was mainly abuse awareness organizations who were sharing it. And then it got shared by the people who supported those organizations. And specifically, it seemed to be getting shared by those who were abused.
Just like my Israel campaign. Just like the “I Have a Therapist” campaign.
Had I wasted my time? Had I made no difference at all?
The funny thing is that I never set out to make a “difference” when I create these campaigns. More often than not, they are specifically meant to be me preaching to the choir. To reach out to the people who already agree.
Why? What on earth is wrong with me, Mr. Marketer, that I am not interested in results, that I’d rather sell my product to the people who already have it? What’s the point?
We live in a world that is so external, that is so results-based, so data-driven, that we have lost track of inherent worth. Of strengthening those around us.
More and more, our country and our world have cared far more about winning arguments than about simply doing the right thing.
And so what does it mean to preach to the choir? What does it mean if only my pro-Israel compadres, my fellow therapy-goers, abuse victims, hear a message, support and help spread a message that they already believe in?
It’s a reminder: you are not alone. You matter. And your struggle, whatever it is, is not hopeless.
When I look at the world, I see so many people who feel alone, feel helpless, feel as if they are struggling on their own, that their voice does not have power. Sure, they support their causes, sure they know they are not the only one with the struggle. They see beyond the tips of their noses.
But nevertheless, it can sometimes seem like the entire world is against them. Or that there is a group that is louder, stronger, and more powerful than they are. That they simply will always be the outsiders, that they simply will always be the losers in the battle.
Which is why people say, “You’d be better off just accepting it. You’d feel better and healthier.”
You know what all this is? You know what this all translates to?
Not having hope.
There is nothing worse than not having hope. Not believing the world can be different. It’s what causes depression, it’s what causes us to live lives on automatic instead of in full-throttle manual, it’s what quiets the silenced.
In the world I come from, we scream out to God, “Moshiach now! [Bring the Messiah right now, damnit!]”
That’s one of the healthiest screams in the world. It’s a scream of hope. A demand against the Almighty: this world is meant to be better. And we’re going to keep screaming until we’re hoarse, even if, especially if, we see the world falling apart around us.
To scream that barbaric “YAWP!” that Robin Williams demands from his student in Dead Poet’s Society, is similar. To scream out from within so the world can hear. To simply express, to simply be heard even if only by the air, is one of the most important and redeeming actions we can take.
Preaching to the choir. Speaking to ourselves. Only having those who support us hear us: Will it make a difference?
How do you define difference?
Do you define it by “winning?” (Also important, of course, so important)
Or do you also define it by something more, something deeper, something more essential to our being?
The difference of inspiring others to have hope. To believe that their voices matter whether they are heard or not. To believe that, perhaps, if they keep screaming, they will change other people’s minds And even if they don’t, at least they spoke their truth, they lived their truth.
That is difference. Because that is hope.