Sometimes we ask–what can I do? The situations we see others experiencing might make us want to lock our doors, find a way to hide out, count our own blessings. Then most often, guilt sets in. Is there a cure? Yes. There definitely is. Amanda Litman, author of Run for Something, A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself repeats a useful phrase: Where there’s a will (even a tiny one), there is a way.
And I know that each one of us can think back to many times when we were frozen in our tracks over something that had happened to a friend, something awful and we had no idea what to do. For me it was a friend’s house fire that severely damaged their home and burned one of their children. A visit to the hospital came first, but we were helpless there, truly. Then we asked and got an answer: take home clothing, bedding from the house and wash it over and over to rid it of the smoke smell. Take other clothing to the cleaners. We did. A small thing for us to do, a big thing in some way to help out.
DON’T ARGUE YOURSELF OUT OF HELPING
So you have children, a full time job, a parent to visit frequently. Or maybe you yourself are housebound for a medical reason. No matter what your situation, there is something you can do. Because–The cultural tumult of the past couple of years has awoken something in many of us. Newly gutsy advocates have gone up against forces much bigger than themselves and come out with even more conviction. THE OPRAH MAGAZINE.
And it’s not easy. Sometimes we worry how people will react, what they will say about us. But remember, there are many choices and every one of them can help someone else.
IDEAS TO CONSIDER & ESTIMATED TIME COMMITMENT
- Whenever someone asks me to make a phone call to Congress or our local government, I do. I even tangled with a certain senator’s answering person. That’s okay. Here is the phone number for US Congress. 202-224-3121 You’ll be directed to the Senate or House and then to the person you want. 10 minutes a week
- I have helped form a Resistance Group in my community. We are being very local–will be raising money for a woman running for our school board. We have interviewed her and others running for the same position. 2 hours a week
- I confess to being a Twitter person. Now many people know where I stand on issues. And I educate myself every day about these issues. 5-10 minutes a day
- I have a two friends who support animals rights and volunteer at shelters. Name your time.
- Instead of being awash in many battles PICK ONE. Immigration, Black Lives Matter, Adopted or Ill Children, The Incarcerated, ESL (English as a second language), fund raising for any cause you believe in, volunteering–to help the homeless, become a caregiver, volunteer for schools, hospitals, charities, religious organization, battered women–the list is endless.
YES, WE ALL FEEL OVERWHELMED
You watch the news or hear people talking about it everywhere and it’s all consuming. If you are strong enough to just turn away, you will regret that. Take a stand. Activism is like exercise. The one that will WORK FOR YOU, is the ONE THAT ENGAGES YOU. So though you might feel overwhelmed by all the problems out there and all the choices to begin attacking those problems, TAKE YOU TIME. Find the right outlet.
IS THERE A DOWNSIDE? Again, in a major article in the OPRAH Magazine, the writers addressed some of those issues and I am adding a few more.
- What will people think? On some issues I just speak right out. On others, I am more circumspect. Consider your audience. My next-door neighbor does not have the same politics I have, but she gets it that my husband helps the homeless. Regarding other issues, her answer was to “let that go by.” But she helps out at a food bank, so we each are entitled to our choices. BUT WE ALL NEED TO GET OUT THERE.
- Some people worry about the economics involved. That’s okay too. If you educate yourself about issues through reading, then you will have the platform to discuss the issues with family and friends. In the end, you might get more people to support your local library, your school board, to vote in a local election, to care about gun laws.
- For a year, I supported the ACLU with a monthly contribution. And I also, when I can, support my chosen political party. Try to contribute when there’s a double or triple match–wealthy donors raising your 10 or 20 dollars.
- And if you have joined a volunteer organization, don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends for donations to that organization. That’s another way to spread the word, help those in need.
THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING THAT I LOVE
- More women running for office and WINNING. My favorite example: after the Women’s March of 2017, a Virginia CongressMAN was quoted as saying: I hope they all get home in time to cook dinner. A young woman heard that. This guy’s seat was up for re-election. So she ran against him AND she won!
- People are using their cell phones to record discrimination and then sharing what they see to help that person’s case.
- More books are being written about the lives of diverse people. Knowledge is power. You read about another’s life and you can always see HOW THEY ARE LIKE YOU.
- Activism with large numbers of people participating brings about NEEDED CHANGE. Here are some amazing examples: the civil rights movement, suffrage, marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, and laws that protect the rights and freedoms of women, children, the handicapped, and the mentally ill.
Are you passionate about an issue? Great. And remember, you don’t need special skills to help. Sometimes all you need is getting out there, opening your heart and offering your help. Your phone calls, your words to others, your volunteer hours are drops that fill buckets and finally make waves and oceans. A few weeks ago I mentioned in my blog, a piece in the LA Times about nursing. This week, a woman wrote in to respond to that very piece. She wrote: Thanks for bringing our attention to the most essential of human traits: the simple acts of everyday kindness.
You ready?? Your turn.
Thanks to YOU TUBE, ART.
A Special thanks to an article that really got me thinking:
WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO STAND UP FOR? in the most recent Oprah Magazine