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Blog: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

By July 5, 2024Blog, News
by Kathleen Simley; Communictions Director, First Lutheran Church
I recently caught part of a new documentary streaming on HBO/Max about Steven Van Zandt, an American musician and actor. The film is broken into four chapters, walking us through his life and career. The first chapter, “Salvation,” kicks off with Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen rocking out in various New Jersey bands in the late ’60s, wrapping up with Van Zandt’s exit from the E Street Band just as “Born in the USA” was released.
Then comes the second chapter, “Revolution,” which struck me. It dives into Van Zandt’s fierce political activism, specifically his fight against South Africa’s apartheid system. This brutal regime enforced racial segregation and privileged white people. This struggle inspired Van Zandt to write and produce the song “Sun City.” This powerful anthem united hip-hop, rock, R&B and pop stars in a collective pledge to boycott the South African resort. Their efforts contributed to the liberation of Nelson Mandela and the eventual downfall of the apartheid regime. Thanks to Van Zandt’s efforts, “Sun City” played a crucial role in challenging and ultimately bringing down a government.
I was moved by this section of Van Zandt’s life – not just because I was clueless about his role in toppling the South African government, but also because it reminded me of the incredible impact one person can have. I often catch myself thinking or saying, “I can’t make a difference on my own” when faced with issues or injustices. Maybe you’ve felt the same. But Van Zandt’s story is a powerful reminder that every one of us can indeed make a difference. Big changes start with one person recognizing the need for action and doing something about it.
History is filled with examples of change-makers, from biblical figures like Esther, Paul, Abraham, Nehemiah, and Jesus, to Martin Luther, whose ninety-five theses ignited the Protestant Reformation. And change doesn’t always have to happen on the world stage. Look at the Justice in Action movement here in Lincoln – an interfaith, grassroots coalition tackling big community issues. What began as a vision of a few people now involves 24 congregations and hundreds of volunteers, including First Lutheran. Let’s also acknowledge the numerous change agents within the First Lutheran community over the years – those who identified a need and took action.
But as important as these examples are, I want to remind you that you too can be a change-maker. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale – small acts of kindness and compassion can make a big impact on someone’s life. Whether it’s donating your time or resources to a cause you believe in, speaking out against injustice and discrimination, or simply being there for someone who needs support, each action we take has the potential to create ripples of positive change.
So next time you find yourself doubting your ability to make a difference, remember Van Zandt’s message and the countless individuals who have made a lasting impact through their actions. You never know whose life you may touch or inspire by taking that first step towards positive change. As the saying goes, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Let us all strive to be change-makers in our own unique ways, and together we can create a better world for all.
(Were you a fan of the hit television series, “The Sopranos?” Steven Van Zandt also played the role of Silvio Dante in the show!)
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