Gov 2.0: "Footloose" Edition

After high school hoodlums throw a brick through the window, narrowly missing his little cousins "Ren's" (Kevin Bacon's) uncle verbally attacks him for stirring up trouble in Bomont. It's a trivial cause at best (and "sacreligious" at worst), the right to a high school prom.

Ren finds out that his uncle is losing business and his mom has just gotten fired from her job over his cause. He doesn't seem to care. When his mother asks him why he persists, he answers as below.

As I watched Ren say this on screen, I realized why I watch this movie every time it airs and why I sometimes cry when I see it. Why I write blogs that nobody pays me for and that often, relatively few people read. Why I find it important to say something.

From Ren's monologue:
“When Dad first threatened to leave, I thought it was because of me. I thought it was something that I wasn't doing right. And I figured there was something I could do to make it like it was... and then he'd want to stay, you know.

“But when he left, just like that... I realized that everything I'd done hoping that he'd stay-everything I'd done, it didn't mean s**t. Didn't matter.
And I felt like, '’what difference does it make?’

“But now--now I'm thinking…I could really do something, you know. I could really do something for me this time, you know…otherwise I'm just gonna disappear.”
As a young person I often had the experience of feeling powerless to change the things that weren't working in my life. It seemed like no matter how hard I struggled to fix things, I couldn't.

As an adult I often felt that way too, and still do. What can a person do? We are all seemingly just "cogs in the wheel," trying to survive.

But something changed eventually, around the year 2001. I started to work in the field of internal communications; I read The Cluetrain Manifesto; the Internet picked up steam, and then social media. I learned that other people were feeling the same thing - impatience with the status quo. Wanting to break through the b.s. Trying to make things better.

And when I joined the government in 2003 I found a ready cause. There was so much that needed to change. There were so many people who wanted to make those changes. And a few who just stubbornly resisted any questioning of the rules, at any cost. Even if they didn't work.

And so I decided to try, regardless of where I was. If it was going to be government - an environment where I had never envisioned myself working - so be it. And so it began. 

Nearly 10 years later, looking back, I think it is worth it. Change is coming about. You can call it Gov 2.0 or anything you want, but the bottom line is still the same: We all want to make a difference. We have to. Or else we are afraid that we will just disappear, and our work lives will not have been worth it. 

Not mattering at all. It's a possibility we can't entertain. And so we celebrate every mark of progress. You may not see the impact all the time, or ever. But the momentum is there, and it is something worth celebrating. 

I am glad to be a part of Gov 2.0 and grateful to see others' efforts bearing fruit as well.

Just a thought as we head into another work week: Be inspired by trying - some days it's all you've got.

Good luck!