Tamra Gordon was tired of watching the revolving door of abusers and their victims cycle through Clinton's courtrooms. When she found something she thought would work, she set out to change the way the judicial system approached the issue. By adding the solution of a batterer's intervention program to the city's toolbox, she began a process that has cut the incidence of abuse in half and practically eliminated recidivism among abusers in her city.
In doing so, Gordon has made a profound difference in countless lives.
Abusers that go through the batterer's intervention program learn that they don't have to repeat the destructive behavior of their past--or their parent's past. Victims learn that sometimes the system actual does work to support them. Today's children in abusive homes have a chance to become responsible, loving partners and parents.
That is how people affect changes: one person and one step at a time.
Gordon didn't do it all alone, of course. Lots of people are in on the act in Clinton: judges, prosecutors, police, program facilitators--even the victims and the abusers have a stake in making a change come about. The Jackson Free Press had a hand in bringing the intervention program to Mississippi through raising funds at our annual Chick Ball. The Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl recognized the need for the program and is administering all the details. And some really smart people in Duluth, Minn., developed the program. Nonetheless, Gordon made the first move for Clinton, and then she followed through on her commitment. (Read the story on page 9 for more details.)
At every step, one person stood up and said, "Enough." That's another thing it takes to make a change happen: being unwilling to accept the status quo.
More men and women are injured or die at the hand of violent abusers every year than U.S. soldiers become casualties in Afghanistan. That's not acceptable. It's no more acceptable than some American children not knowing where their next meal is coming from, not having a textbook in school, or that a madman can mow down innocent children--or adults--with weapons designed for a battlefield.
Whatever part of the world makes us unhappy, angry or fearful, nothing will ever change until one of us stands up and says "Enough!"
In the words of Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Our addendum: One person has to begin the change.
In the coming year, we invite you to challenge yourself to make a spark that begins a blaze. What difference will you begin?