How many times have you heard or read this poignant quote from Gandhi? Being a change advocate since birth I live and breathe these words. I experienced this active change Gandhi was talking about firsthand when my daughter courageously stepped forward, effectively stopping a child molester who had been abusing his students for seven years.
A common challenge for inspired change advocates like me is when the desired change is so astronomical we can’t even wrap our brain around it. That was me, sitting in the court room 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 6 weeks, and during the 3-hour commute I spent every minute trying to figure out how I was going to change our justice system once this trial was over. I was adamant it had to be done. I just couldn’t imagine other victims having to endure what we were going through.
Every fiber of my being was screaming out, “This must change!” But where would I even begin? Where do I start searching? Is there a “how-to” book for that? Is it even possible for one person? Am I going to have to go to law school? Do I have to get involved with politicians? I wasn’t just contemplating this grand idea; I was seriously losing sleep trying to figure out the actual steps to take. I was frustrated and overwhelmed and left feeling more helpless than the trial itself.
Adding insult to injury, I would come to experience many more disturbing circumstances. To begin with, I wasn’t allowed to explain to the jurors that we had brought our case to inspire change and not make money. I also wasn’t able to share with the jurors how I give a lot of time and money to my daughters’ school, and until now I would have never considered suing a school district. I’m about helping schools not hurting them. Knowing my stance, the judge made it clear on day one of the trial, during his 45-minute instructions to the jurors, that our case was NOT about change and it was only about money. He reiterated this at the end of the trial as well, in effect helping the defense attorney paint a picture of two parents only out for money. I was infuriated!
The reason I set out to sue the school district was to create awareness that would demand change. Before I even hired my attorney he made it very clear to me that IF we were to win, the amount of money we would get after paying all of the legal fees would be peanuts. Still, I did not waiver. This was not about money for us, but it was about money for the school district. The school district is a business and the only way to get them to make systemic change is to make them pay. The insurance companies are who actually pay any monetary settlements awarded. The school districts have to answer to the insurance companies and will be forced to make systemic changes to keep their insurance.
Even though we were victorious with a 12-0 verdict in our favor, I wasn’t satisfied. I was still screaming for change. Then, one day I received a message from my attorney. Unlike the judge, my attorney understood, without a doubt, what my intentions were from the start. He told me that our case had gained major publicity in the legal world and had already been used as precedent for other cases, helping multiple people to justify and even win their case.
I wept uncontrollably, filled with utter disbelief and amazement at the same time.
I immediately thought to myself, “Wow, the Universe listened to me, I have literally made a change in the justice system.” It wasn’t the change I thought I would make, but nevertheless, it was a change that would help countless others. I’ve never felt more connected to society as a whole in my entire life than I did at that moment—I was the change I want to see in the world.
So, I would ask you…what change do you want to be in the world?