The Charlies

Self-Titled Debut Album

Commitment in a Time of Change

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Courtesy of Yobs via Flikr

Courtesy of Yobs via Flikr

We are in an undeniable era of accelerated change. Change is deeply needed to fix our broken economic and environmental policies. However, change is not an end unto itself, and it is so distracted from the pressing issues. While our most important priorities seem slow to change, our precious attention is strained by instantaneously changing twitter streams, obtrusive advertising, and blasting playlists. How can we strategize effective change if we keep changing our minds?

Our attention deficit consumption behaviors are supported by industry in constant innovation and thus a volatile job markets. Consequently, the 79 million members of Generation Y are expected to hold dozens of jobs in their lifetime – that is if we can create the 100,000 new jobs needed a month without a recession. Time Magazine reports that Generation Y is in pursuit of more than just wealth generation to support changing consumption patternsl; Generation Y’s short attention is realy a rejection of an way of seeing. Shifting preferences are actually in pursuit of real meaning. Gen Y has an attention span form ‘empty value’ as short as a YouTube clip, but there are fewer outlets in the job market for meaningful work. How can we change our mindless behavior and build commitment to meaningful work?

In his latest column, David Brooks acknowledges that true occupational meaning is built on long term commitments. He recounts the story of Supreme Court justice nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, who has achieved great on the bench and has overcome structural setbacks through her commitment to justice. Sotomayor was raised by her widowed mother in an immigrant community in housing projects in the Bronx, but highly achieved in school, receiving scholarships to top universities. After excelling in academics, her life on the bench has been a constant self-sacrifice to public justice. Her story exemplifies that meaning and purpose is built through life long commitment, but this lesson cannot be learned or consumed in 30 seconds chunks, or even feature films.

[Sotomayor’s story is an] authentic glimpse of a style of life that hasn’t yet been captured by a novel or a movie — the subtle blend of high-achiever successes, trade-offs and deep commitments to others… [the] lure of work, which provides an organizing purpose and identity… You see the way people not only choose a profession, it chooses them. It changes them in a way they probably didn’t anticipate at first.

With more jobs being cut then created, it may be necessary to make commitments to building meaningful lives in other spaces. Even with tightened budgets, this is not a time to only look inward, but rather to extend commitments to others. I recently discovered Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, which provides far more than for just its own congregation. Glide has a $16 million budget behind health care, housing, daily meals, and support groups for an entire underserved urban population. What is more is that their entire congregation participates in this public commitment.

Even our personal behavioral commitments can have larger societal impact, that is if we are patient. No Impact Man is Colin Beavan’s blog, book, documentary, and personal commitment to cut consumption, waste, and all environmentally damaging activities (including riding the elevator) from his daily life for an entire year. In the process he has lost 20lbs without visiting a single gym, he has gotten his daughter to ear her vegetables, he has strengthened the bond of his marriage, and moreover, he has educated an entire urban population on the deep joy of cutting out the crap. Learn more about how to mindfully reduce your environmental impact and strengthen your health at noimpactman.typepad.com

While change is inevitable and necessary to overcome our largest world issues, we must also make commitments towards what is just, what is healthy, and what will ultimately create enduring meaning in our lives.

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Written by Charlie

July 15, 2009 at 6:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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