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Examiner
  • Matt Beem: Focus on what you can do to make a difference

  • Something I heard last Sunday on the heels of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings has stayed with me all week.

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  • Something I heard last Sunday on the heels of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings has stayed with me all week.
    In the wake of such unspeakable tragedy, it’s easy to ask what’s wrong with the world and question how God could let something so horrific happen. They’re legitimate concerns, the speaker said.
    Ultimately, though, they’re questions without answers.
    What we can assess, he said, is whether we’re doing all we can to reduce the likelihood of such events in our community. We can ask what more can be done to meet those in need where they are and to help them in ways that improve their lives.
    The speaker reminded me that we’re much more alike than we are different. He challenged listeners to build on their common goals and dedicate their energies to making progress together.
    His points were on the mark and just what I needed to hear.
    Ultimately, try as we might, we can’t control others’ actions. Similarly, however, nobody else governs how we spend our time.
    The maxim my dad has shared since I was a young lad really is true: We preside over our own lives.
    Last weekend’s comments spurred me to inventory how I spend my discretionary time as I enter the holiday season and prepare for the new year. It’s been a revealing, surprising – and ultimately positive – experience.
    • Starting now, I’m going to devote more of my personal time to things that are important to me and less to things that are important to others. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to spend every spare moment watching the Fox Soccer Channel instead of volunteering as the Boy Scouts of America Blue Elk District chairman. But from now on, my priority will be my plan for my volunteer service.
    • I’m also going to pursue volunteer opportunities to which I feel personally called. Interest is one thing, but passion is another. I’m interested in helping those who are hungry in metropolitan Kansas City, but I’m passionate about serving organizations in northwest Independence that improve my neighbors’ lives through balanced, accessible nutrition.
    • And I’m going to think twice before making new volunteer commitments to ensure I have the time to see them through. Visionary, far-reaching aspirations to serve may be honorable, but those that are realistic often have a greater ultimate impact because we get them done.
    As she covered the breaking Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy just over a week ago, NBC journalist Ann Curry launched a Twitter initiative that has swept the country. Her 26 Acts of Kindness, which you can find on Twitter at #26ActsofKindness and on Faceook at https://www.facebook.com/26acts, encourages each of us to plan a personal act of kindness for every person killed in the shooting.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Sandy Hook tragedy frayed our emotions, leaving anger, fear and sadness in its wake. Yet how it informs our actions today and in the future is the positive – yes, positive – difference it can make.
    Use Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness to frame your next 26 good deeds. Make them things that are important to you, acts about which you feel passionate and actions you can complete.
    But don’t stop there. Let them be the beginning of your ongoing personal quest to improve the world by making a positive difference every day in Eastern Jackson County.
    Matt Beem is president and chief executive officer of Hartsook Companies, an international fundraising consulting firm. He lives in Independence.
     
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