Sunday, January 29, 2017

Small Actions To Be the Change We Want to See in the World

Yesterday on our drive back, I saw a solitary protestor on the side of the road (Highway 1, the only major road) in Key Largo.  He had a huge sign that said, "Resist Trump's actions on Muslims."

A multitude of thoughts went through my head.  I wondered if there had been new actions during the day when we were away.  I admired the solitary protest.  I wondered why he chose that particular street side.  How long will he stand there?

I thought about a recent post that Beth wrote about how to balance one's activism life with self-care.  It's an excellent post, especially for people who are new to this necessity of protest.  And for those of us who are weary at still having to mount these protests, there are good reminders:  "Part of the struggle against fascism, extreme negativity, fear and violence is to maintain our true selves, and a belief in all that is good in the world and in our lives. So don't stop creating, don't stop loving, and don't stop living. The formless and pervasive sense of "I should be doing something" will be alleviated by your discernment, your focus, and your commitment to do something concrete each day or each week. So do that, and then get on with your life, wholeheartedly."

And for those of us who are overwhelmed by the need for all this action, I would remind us that small actions can bring good into the world too.  I am seeing lots of Facebook posts about people who are determined to take one daily action, big or small, for change or resistance to the current administration.  Many of these actions involve calling or e-mailing legislators.

I don't dispute that communicating with legislators is important, and I anticipate months of issues emerging which will necessitate expressing our dismay to those whom we have elected to govern. 

I am lucky in that I have a Representative who is likely to vote the way that I want her to vote.  I always feel kind of silly when I call and ask her to vote for a bill that I know she'll support already.

I also know that this kind of action can leave some of us feeling hopeless.  We may have legislators who will do whatever they want, regardless of their constituents.  We may feel that we call and call and call, and nothing happens.

Maybe we need something more immediate.  I thought of this when my college roommate saved the Campbell's soup labels on cans that I was going to recycle.  She told me that I could take them to my public library, and they could get free books that way.  I had never thought of that.

I don't use canned soup often, but I do occasionally use them when I need chicken or beef stock.  What a great idea to save the labels.

We could do the same with box tops, which come on many products and local schools can trade for stuff.  I mail mine to my sister, who collects them for my nephew's elementary school.  But at the time that she no longer collects them, I could still donate them to a local school.

What are some other actions that we can do that will take a small amount of time but bring some good into the world?  Let me list some:

--When we go grocery shopping, we could pick up some items for the food pantry.  Don't know where your local food pantry is?  Call a local church or two or three--you'll find someone who can tell you.

--When we go to a big box store, like Target or Wal-Mart, we could buy a package of socks for the local homeless shelter.

--Don't forget about the power of money.  We can write a check to national or local groups that are working for the changes we want to see in the world.  Even small checks are better than no checks.

--Does your employer match your charitable giving?

--Bring some treats to the local office of your favorite non-profit or charity.  Raise the spirits of the people who are usually working long hours for low pay.

--Read to children.  At first this action might not seem simple as many groups now require a background check.  But once you're done with that, you might find joy in sharing stories with children.

--Buy children's books and give them to elementary schools and libraries.  Support programs that support summer reading.

--Don't forget about the importance of self-care and care of your compatriots.  You cannot keep giving and giving and not replenish yourself.