Everyone wants to change the world — some for the worse but most for the better. But it seems so daunting. The world is a big place and it’s hard to know where to start. Since I love to be helpful, here’s a list.
The first and easiest thing you can do is give money. Whoa, you say, I can’t afford that. Sure, you can. It doesn’t have to be much. Even $5 a month makes a difference (it can feed a person or even a family for a day) and you can do it the easy way through an automatic deduction from your bank or credit card. Give more if you can. You might have to cut back on some of the luxuries of life but we can all do with fewer donuts.
Really can’t give money? Give time. Find a worthwhile organization that reflects your values and donate some time. It could be a shift sorting groceries at the local food bank or an afternoon going door-to-door for a charity. Got mobility issues, you can work on a phone bank from your home. It has been estimated that if every American donated 5 hours a month of their time to fight poverty, homelessness and illiteracy — all three could be wiped out in 3 years.
Charity not you bag? Join a political party. Work to see people you believe in get elected to office. They take money too and what you will discover is that they listen to the views of the people who work for them. Get sufficiently engaged and you will find yourself on local policy making committees.
Practical and private things are more appealing? Spend a day walking through your neighbourhood picking up litter. Or seeing if some of your neighbours need some chores done that they can’t do themselves because of age and infirmity.
On the most personal note, learn to listen. Learn to sympathize while avoiding the need to interfere. Men are prone to mansplaining while women are prone to wanting to ‘take care of people.’ I discovered from years of constituency work that the first thing a person with a problem needs and wants is validation that what they are going through is real and it’s wrong. Worry about fixing it later (or better yet, helping them fix it.)
Of course we all know that we can reduce, reuse and recycle. Walk instead of drive three times a week. It will reduce pollution and make you healthier as well. Keep your cell phone an extra year. Disposal of electronics is a growing crisis for the environment. Those things are full of poisonous materials.
Times running out so here are four more in brief. Write to a politician about an issue you think needs fixing. A personal letter has a hundred times the impact of a petition. Just make sure you are polite and well-reasoned and researched. Letters to the editor are a good idea too — not just snarky flames on the comment sections but well-argued and brief letters. It expands the ideas being debated. Go to a public meeting and engage in the topic; join a peaceful protest; go out on a limb and set an example of activism.
Finally, and maybe most important, be kind to your family, friends, your community, complete strangers, the world. Avoid anger and hate. Refuse to be afraid. Change the world.
And that’s a bit more than ten minutes because changing the world doesn’t happen overnight.