Where to Start?

by Lisa Schilansky, Intern Minister

I was having a conversation the other day about how Generation Z and those younger are growing up in a completely different world than Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation. The early 2000s brought the “Breaking News” panic crawl to every news story, and ten years later those alerts and a constant state of panic were suddenly in our pockets in the form of smart phones. While we all struggled to adjust – likely without even realizing it – it is those coming of age now who have never known a different world, who have never had a respite from the constant screams of panic.

And yes, you might notice I left out Millennials. My generation is experiencing this time in our own unique way. We are overwhelmed and flooded by the catastrophe facing our world since our middle school/high school years, and we also had the major benefit of a childhood spared from this unrelenting madness.

Regardless of age, or generation, it is safe to assume that many of us are feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world, and are wondering what to do next, how to get started? Or perhaps we want to disengage altogether.

So where do we start? No one can operate at level ten – crisis level – forever. Our nervous systems would never allow it. At the same time, we are counting down the months to what is being called “the most important election in any of our lifetimes” while simultaneously hearing about the nearly irreversible state of our Earth and climate, forever scarred by human-caused, greed-fueled decisions. I am writing this in a Unitarian Universalist church – you all know this; you all know what is at stake. So rather than continuing to list out the reasons to panic, I want to offer up a quote that held great meaning to me as a twenty-two-year-old who wanted nothing more than to save the world. In the words of Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”

With this quote in mind, I invite you to consider what cause you genuinely care about. Once you think of your cause, go and make a difference, go and offer your time, treasure, and talents to further it. I encourage you to not feel like you must do x, y, or z because others claim it to be the highest need. If you are doing something out of social obligation, you likely will not continue with it. So, go out into the world and feed your soul through service, through serving whatever cause aligns most with that which you value. The world will be a better place because of it.