Somewhere between Dr. Seuss and Dr. Kevorkian, we seem to have been told that government can solve most of our problems. The evolution of this mentality had taken it even a step further. Our society now seems to believe that our government not only can solve all of our problems, but also should solve all of our problems. Like most of us, I spent many years asking the government for answers. I spent many years questioning decisions made and I have been certain I knew better ways the government could handle most of the pressing issues of our day. The more I questioned what was taking place in our government, the more I realized how extremely complex the issues are. The older I got, the more I realized that the government didn't have most of the answers. As I became even older and a little wiser, I came to realize that within the parameters of government there are some questions where Groucho had it right. "The answer is there is no answer."
One of the blessings my life has afforded me is to have been in college with the Woodstock generation. Not a day went by when our thoughts weren't directed to the Vietnam War by the graphic images and at the same time by the protests. The blessing came because of the lessons those times taught. It was a time when most of us learned that the government wasn't always right. It was a time we realized that we had to ask questions. It was a time we learned that we had to be involved.
As that Woodstock generation has taken the leadership roles in our communities and our society, a different plan of attack has emerged. A new direction is being taken to correct many of our social challenges. If you take a close look at most of our communities, you will see local challenges being attacked by efforts that are not related to government. Grass roots movements seem to be able to find answers when not restricted by those governmental parameters. We are proving there is no problem or challenge that can stand up to the human spirit when driven by a passion to change the world. Margaret Mead nailed it when she said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; it's the only thing that ever has!"
I have been very fortunate to be heavily involved in the poster child for such grass roots movements, Habitat For Humanity. Habitat For Humanity and I found each other in the late 80's. The attraction for me was primarily two factors. I was first attracted by the hands-on feature Habitat provided. We often cheat ourselves by writing checks to help a charity. I fully understand the importance and magnitude of that piece of the puzzle, but the heart grows so much larger if you can make a difference with a hands-on effort. I was already a building contractor so the fit was a good one. The second factor was the way the government was intentionally kept on the outside. The government has shown over and over again they aren't very good at housing the needy. We have watched government housing projects become embarrassments for the residents, the community and the government. Habitat found ways to correct many of the government's errors.
It has now been thirty years since Habitat started in Georgia. When Millard and Linda Fuller gave up their fortune and told people they were going to eliminate substandard housing in the world, people laughed. There are now over 200,000 homes with over 1,000,000 people living in them because of their dream. People aren't laughing anymore.
To this day there is still a misconception about the work of Habitat. Some people believe it is a "government give away program". The simple fact I don't have to explain the term "government give away program" makes a powerful statement about government involvement in our country. For the most part, Habitat has kept the government clear of their work and it has been proven to be a big part of their success.
As you have found out if you took the time to read this far, this isn't an article about anarchy as the title might indicate. It is about participation. It's about passion. It's about truly believing we can change the world. It's about changing the world by getting up off our butts and taking the proverbial bull by the horns. A large number of the answers aren't as complicated as our government has made them. The government doesn't have all of the answers, but unfortunately, in many cases the government isn't even sure of the questions.
The reality is many of the answers are in the hearts, heads and hands of each and every one of us. You are needed somewhere and you are needed now. It isn't about politics; it's about possibilities. It's not about legislation; it's about motivation. It's definitely not about right or left; it's about right and wrong. So I ask you to reach out, to play a hands-on role, and to leave the world better than you found it.