When I first started using social media back in 2008, I am pretty sure my online bio read, “Connecting people and affecting change.” It was more an ideal than a reality, but it spoke to what I hoped I could do using the platforms available to me.
Over a decade removed from those noob beginnings, I look back and like to think I’ve done well with the ‘connecting people’ part. Among my circle of friends, I find myself as the one they go to with questions or issues in hopes I can point them in the right direction. I think we all, for the most part, do that for those with whom we share a relationship, but I feel blessed to have a penchant for the “I know a guy” scenario that comes up in conversation.
As for affecting change, that’s a whole different story.
I guess the first question to ask is, “positive or negative change?” It doesn’t take a special skill to leave a wake of destruction, and depending on who you ask – or when you asked them – I have a C.V. full of ‘negative change’ experiences.
But in all seriousness, there is something extraordinarily special about being able to come into a situation, a moment, or even a person’s life and make a positive impact. Being an agent of change for the better is what we should all strive to do, and I was reminded of that as I watched Netflix.
Lee and I are into Season 2 of The Crown, and in episode 5 we’re introduced to Lord Altrincham, a writer who publishes his opinions of the Queen with regards to her presence as the sovereign of Britain. Here is an excerpt from an article in Town & Country Magazine outlining the plot of this episode:
Lord Altrincham (who was later known as John Grigg after he disclaimed his title in 1963) shook Britain when he suggested that the Queen and the courtiers who supported her were out of touch with her subjects.
I know nothing of British Royalty and the levels of sophistication required to run in those circles and keep those traditions that date back centuries. Still, I understand how important they are to the British people, and I can only imagine the gumption it took for Lord Altrincham to publicly air his grievances. Yet he did, and although he initially took a beating for it – both figuratively and literally – in the end, he was proven right.
What stood out to me in the episode is when Altrincham sought counsel from his peers and one of them told him (with regards to appearing on a television interview show to defend his position), “…keep your cool under his scrutiny, make your case politely, respectfully, intelligently. It could turn people around.” He did just that, both on live air and in the audience of the Queen. He never made it about himself. It was always about the country he loved.
In the end, he affected change. He did so with his steadfastness and humility.
I’ve failed, rather spectacularly at times, in the department of humility when it comes to situations like this. In my passion and zeal to argue a point, the whole, “make your case politely (and) respectfully” has gone out the window. It’s a work in progress for me, but that shouldn’t prevent me, or any of us, from standing up and saying what we feel is the right and the just thing in the moment.
Affecting change takes guts and risks unpopularity. More importantly, however, is that affecting change is never realized when we keep our mouths shut.