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Cam Marston on Changing for the Better


I feel like the world is on fire right now. In the couple of days between when I finish recording this commentary and before it airs, there will probably be another half a dozen more news stories about shootings. It feels like we’re spinning out of control.

I struggle between "this doesn’t concern me, this isn’t happening in my world, I don’t know these people, it’s not my problem." I’ll offer my thoughts and my prayers, and as long as my daily patterns aren’t disrupted, well, I’ll just feel bad for those poor victims and their families.

The other side is that attitude can’t be OK any more. There was a time when I could say, feel, and believe that. But no longer. Either the problem has gotten so big that I can’t dismiss it as other people’s problems or, maybe I’ve changed – I don’t know. But I can no longer tolerate feeling helpless.

Our reflex is to scream to politicians to solve these problems. They don’t. Maybe the can’t. They certainly tell us what we want to hear but it’s been a long time since politicians solved any real problems. It’s up to you and me.

So, what do we do? What do I do? The status quo is what got us here, so doing nothing keeps us here. I must change some part of my behavior. That’s the only thing I can control. But what do I do?

Somewhere not far from me right now is someone on the edge of committing an audacious and harmful act driven by hatred or anger or both. They’re suffering from something and it’s going to boil over. It may not make local or national news. The victim may be a spouse, a friend, a child. They’re not wearing a sandwich board telling us about it, it’s hidden behind a practiced façade of their normality. But inside they’re struggling. And I will come in contact with them not knowing who they are. It is probably a young-ish male. That’s who keeps showing up in mug shots.

In the past, I’d not engage this person. I prefer to stay in my own quiet world when I’m out and about, quietly doing the daily patterns of my life. Live and let live. Be and let be. However, that’s what’s gotten us to this point. That pattern must change. It now needs to be eye contact, smiles, finding small ways to be helpful to and compassionate to strangers, especially the young males who seem to be suffering behind these façades of aloofness or toughness.

It’s time for us to engage. I need your help. Small acts of kindness to perfect strangers wherever possible. All of us. It just might cool that person who’s about to boil over. Maybe. Maybe. But what else do we have?

And I need you to do it like your life or your family’s life depends on it.

I’m Cam Marston, and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Cam Marston is the Keepin' It Real host for Alabama Public Radio.