Make a positive difference in the world in 2011

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Well, this is my last column in The Anderson News for 2010. I should make it memorable. I should do a highlight of events that have affected our lives in the past year. I should, but my memory stinks.
Americans, as a whole, have short memories. I don’t know if it’s because we know we must go on, so we put things out of our minds, or we’re just immensely hopeful. The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is coming up and there won’t be many commemorations. The Civil War is a big deal in our country’s history. Trouble is it’s just that, history.
So, if history isn’t our thing, how do we fare when it comes to the future? About the same. Again, as a whole, Americans live in the now, just getting through the days. We live for special times, and special memories weave in and out of our lives throughout the months.
As we move into 2011, I am resolving to think about the future. Not just the future of my life, but that of all.
You see, I truly believe that we are all connected. I believe that we are one, whether we act like it or not. I hope we will all strive to make a positive difference in the world every day in 2011.
We have 365 days, yet more than 365 opportunities. The ways to make a positive difference are too numerous to even be counted, nor should they be. We should make a positive difference because it affects our future. That means we need a plan.
Like all plans, it can be simple or intricately organized. I’m a simple country girl, so I like simple. My life involves a lot of interaction with people, plants and animals, so my plan will revolve around all living things. Yours may not, but yours will affect mine, and vice-versa. That’s the beauty of one.
Here’s an example. If I, and other farmers, choose not to use petrochemicals on our crops, it affects the ground water. The chemicals will not be seeping into the water table and eventually our drinking water. Water quality affects us all.
If I plant certain heirloom vegetables that have a natural defense to pests and disease I won’t need to use herbicides and pesticides. I won’t negatively affect the other living things that feed on and pollinate our crops and then enter the food chain.
I like to picture one of those giant domino displays. You’ve seen them. They line up millions of dominoes on a gym floor so that when one goes down it triggers a chain effect. Move just one of them and it all stops. Some things in our lives need that chain to keep going, some need the chain to stop.
We’re the dominoes that keep this world going, so we need to be careful where we stand and how we move. The kind of person we are and how we live affects many. We should stop and think about how our behavior will impact others. If we have a plan, we can grow those opportunities to make a positive difference. More “bang for the buck,” if you will. All we have to do is remember. Remember that we are not alone, that we are all connected in this web of life. Just one smile can be as infectious as a yawn. See someone do it and you can’t help but do it yourself.
All I need is a reminder. So, I’ve printed three small signs, one for work, one for the house and one for the truck. I told you my memory stinks. I resolve to read them every day and do my best to make a positive difference in the world every day. We’re all capable.
I encourage you to make your own sign or use a symbol or picture. Whatever works.
Now, let me end this year by sending you one simple message with great love: thank you, for being in my life. Happy New Year and happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.