Be The Change You Want To See
Along The Journey I met James Tate, a graduate student of the University Of Texas, Dallas. As it is with each and every hi and hello, the person engaged is much more than a passing face, a voice, or a decked out body happening along. A little quality time often reveals much more. So it was with meeting James Tate. He turns out to be a multi-faceted humanitarian ready and willing to live out his motto: Be The Change.
His motto attracted my attention. When I found out about the change he was about to initiate, I invited him pronto for a chat on The Journey.
Being the change you want to see, by all accounts, takes strength. It takes courage. It takes being bold. It requires belief. It rewards confidence. The fashion industry knew this all along. They accepted its challenge fully aware of its possibilities and its remarkable cache. So, what else do they know and knew all along that still escapes many?
Every season we dash about, eyes darting in search of the new look, the new feel, the new power gear, the new charm enhancer. Perhaps, you’ll look to Milan or Paris or New York or LA or Dallas or to a brand name, any which way who to get a clue of what you’re supposed to be in the new season. Why? We want to be in style! We want to seem informed! We want to be with it. We want to be a member of the in group. We want to be up front and center with the in-trend. Bluntly, we just prefer not to be out of style. We, as a people, for good or for ill, want to be connected socially. We want to belong. We don’t want to be left behind. M-hm! The fashion industry knows this. The social networking industry caught on to this. The technology industry is latched on to this. And what did these all begin doing from the first moments of their discoveries, and are still doing?
They keep becoming the change they want to see.
And we follow.
If you don’t like what you see, you wont wear what they wear. You wont buy what they sell. You wont follow their trends. You’ll set your own. You’ll become the change you want to see. Or you’ll spend your time complaining, griping, griping, griping, griping, griping, complaining and griping. Or you’ll just keep rolling along, sticking your finger in the breeze and going where the wind blows.
This is not a new phenomenon.
Of course, there is a wide array of instances, causes and reasons why we would at times – for some, far too many more times than for others – need a bullhorn to shout out in an effort to call attention to or to dramatize an encroaching dysfunction: oppression, aggression, repression, tyranny, bullying, abuse, thievery. We feel the need to shout in order to bring awareness. Granted! But shouting does not bring change. It doesn’t build the bridge. It doesn’t fix the road. It fixes nothing. Change comes one and only one way, by being.
The great ones know this. Examples proliferate. But it takes foresight. It takes strength. It takes courage. It takes boldness. It requires belief. It rewards confidence. It tests whether or not we truly believe our own shouts.
Too often, though, what begins as an attempt at bringing awareness degenerates into complaining, nagging, bitching, bemoaning, which brings no change; rather it plays right into the hands of those who are determined that the change you seek never occur. What a difference it is when we can become the change, when we value ourselves enough to be the change we want to see. Be it or beat it.
As I mentioned, this is exactly what James Tate did, living out his motto – Be The Change! I learned much more listening to his story. So what is his story? What did he do?
If ever there is clear evidence of love of neighbor, this certainly has to count right up there: he loves his community enough to be the change he wants to see. Ah! I just got an Aha! A sweet realization. I’ll be right back to share more. Then again, maybe you’ve got it too.
I’m back. I didn’t want to get too unnecessarily excited about my little epiphany. And since I aint no preacher-boy, I went to investigate ‘LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF’ – you know, the original version, well-kinda, since the thought just sprang out from nowhere – sort of. I went to investigate whether there is some kind of exception, you know, some kind of escape clause – a route out. Yes, I checked. I double checked too. Oh dear, oh dear!
I checked what neighbor means – a mean really means. Oh dear – oh dear. That had a huge no-escape-clause attached to it. I better keep quiet. ‘Cause this guy here, James, is doing for free – I think – what a whole lot a … well, no need to go there.
So I had to go and check thyself, seeing how it is an old-fashion word, and all. Oh boy – oh boy! Maybe I shouldn’t have done that!
You know what I think? I think the problem is love. M-hm. But seeing how we’re in the midst of doing a lil journey through four seasons of love, I think I should let my little epiphany happen elsewhere for the time being. Nevertheless, I’ll be right back again; I’m kinda quite excited. Be the change, y’all. In the mean time: Be the change. James Tate did. And now whoever chooses has the opportunity to benefit from what he’s done. This is not a hurting change; it is an empowering change. If you want a change to hurt somebody, wouldn’t it be so nice to be the change and hurt yourself first. Did I say that? Well, I had to, because there is more to this man, as I told you. He is multi-faceted. Be right back.
Born in smalltown Texas, into a stable young nuclear family – “humble beginnings” James called it – and attracted to all things bright and beautiful, James packed up and drove West, into the dawn of a new beginning, following a voice calling from behind the velvet curtains. He was 23. He landed right in the school of hard knocks.
Not to be dissuaded, and much the wiser, James regrouped and heard a voice calling from the East. There, he went. That voice resonated more richly.
Now a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas with a BS in Public Affairs, he is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy.
James recently returned to Dallas after completing an internship with GLSEN in Washington, D.C. through the UT Systems Bill Archer Fellowship Program, and currently serves as Chair of GLSEN’s Greater Dallas Chapter. He attended the Safe Schools Advocacy Summit last March and the national Safe Schools Roundtable in November, and advises with the education committee to implement Dallas Independent School District’s newly adopted anti-bullying and harassment policy.
He is a commanding public speaker, promoting safe schools initiatives and community organizing projects. Fluent in Spanish, he maintains an online CNN iReport blog, and has recently been a featured guest contributor to the Dallas Morning News.
So how did James live out his motto: Be The Change?
What did he do?
What would you do?
I mean, what would I do? What should we do? I thought writing out a list would be a cool idea, in order to turn that list or something special on that list into personal actions that would bring its change into being. Me, being the change. My actions. Witness all the cool happenings. James did it. Yes, he did.
I just went off to compile my list. I had the idea that I’d list all those things I gripe about. I’m not much of a griper, so that didn’t work for me. I thought of all the people I wanted changed. Bad idea. (Then again, maybe, they might see the cool things I’m doing and change. Okay!) I thought of the things I really wanted changed – meaningful things. Long list. Go give it a try. Compile your list. I got it. I just picked an item from my list. It’s a dandy. What did you pick?
So what did James do?
He founded the Dallas Citizen Prosecutor Academy
To Freely Benefit The Citizens Of Dallas County.
And He Told Us How He Went About It – The Steps He Took
It’s A Pretty Good Template – Give It A Try
It takes desire. It takes will. It takes strength. It takes courage. It takes being bold. It requires belief. It rewards confidence. Thoughts become living realities. Being the change moves us forward.
I did raise the question earlier: what else do they know and knew all along that still escapes many?
Two clarities … in one word.
Aesthetics! By which I’m implying beauty, taste, imagination, innovation and artistry. Two clarities! An awakening clarity. And an epiphanic clarity. In the former – that awakening – beauty and taste are recognized, valued, cherished, lauded and promoted. It is a marvelous attraction. It stretches the mind. It heightens desire. It is so awe inspiring it draws in oohs of every kind, glad palpitations, new dreams, and a whole lot of drooling; bold innovations that drive up wanting (affordable by the very few – some wealthy, some wasteful, some wicked.) It’s a beauty codified by prejudice and a taste unreachable by the masses. While it commands, only the very few could afford to follow. They soar in times of plenty, while many drool hoping for a few dribbles. They sink when times are lean, falling right into the laps of the neglected. Their change has self-imposed limits. It’s exclusive. They too have their following. It works for them, provided everything is controlled. And little girls dream of becoming fairies.
Epiphany! Beauty is truth; truth is beauty.
Be The Change!
Let beauty be beauty. Leave tastes to each tongue. Be the change. Innovate. Be the change. Imagine. Imagination is free and as wide as the mind lets it be. Be the change. Let yourself bloom; flowers rise even from betwixt the rocks and float upon running waters, and they are full of beauty. Be the change. That’s how fashion has come to the reaches of all. That’s how the industry changed. Some men and women and boys and girls stopped looking up to exalted towers and confining codes: started looking inward. They became the change. Those in the towers cried foul, but they noticed who the throngs, the masses, were following – new men and women and boys and girls, who dared to be the change. And they also changed. That’s why now even I can sing, I’m a model if you see what I mean …
BE THE CHANGE
Truth is beauty. Beauty is truth.