Do you look at the world and think, what a mess we’re in? Do you ever think, but what can I do to help? The problems are so big and I’m only one person. True, but we each contribute to everything that happens in the world, one person at a time. Because there are so many major problems, I’m asking you to help change the world, in a way that matters to you and in a way that’s possible for you. None of us can do everything that’s needed, but each of us can do something to help.
So, what matters to you and how can you help? Here’s a primer to begin to answer those questions. Choose one task as your own.
Use your brain — Learn, understand a little more about a problem that interests you. Over the years, I’ve learned that the climate change that’s already happening affects minority groups more quickly and more strongly than people in privileged groups like me. So, working to address climate change also recognizes that Black Lives Matter.
Use Your Hands — We need creative people who can design and make signs, banners, costumes, and more to spread our messages! If this is where you shine, we need you and your skills.
Use Your Feet — When you hear about a rally or a march for a cause that speaks to you, show up! My first involvement was in the 70’s, at a giant peace rally at the White House. It felt a little scary, yes, but it also felt like I was doing something. Sometimes I rally for social justice, for Native Americans (like in Plymouth, MA on Thanksgiving day), or against the financial supporters of fossil fuels, such as Chase Bank, to bring attention to money that endangers our planet.
Use Your Mouth — Do this only after using your brain! Talk to others or write to share what you know. Ask questions. Often, when it’s unclear why something is happening or being heavily supported, investigation reveals that someone or an institution stands to gain financially from specific actions, for example, a utility company.
Additionally, contact your legislators. Hundreds, maybe thousands of bills work their way through our local, state, and national governments every year. None of us can be attentive to all of them. However, we can support some of them with emails, letters, and phone calls. If your city and state elected officials don’t know you, get to know them! Talk to them, learn their priorities, and tell them about yours.
Use your $$$ — Do this in three ways. 1. Choose where you spend your money and know who benefits. In general, shopping local keeps your money local, rather than to a corporate entity. I have chosen to never buy from Amazon, including Whole Foods. Additionally, I intentionally use my local book shop, where they gladly order what I want, if it’s not already in stock. Avoid chains and support local vendors and restaurants, when possible.
2. Contribute to causes that matter to you and identify those that use their money equitably, such as NAACP, which now has a north shore branch. Climate groups include 350MA, NoCoalNoGas, Extinction Rebellion, and more.
3. Know your credit card and avoid those offered through Chase Bank or TD bank, because of their heavy financial support of fossil fuels. When I realized that my AARP card was through Chase bank, I notified AARP why I was canceling that account and that I would gladly start another, if they used a different bank.
Use Your Connections — Many organizations exist at local, state, and national levels. If you are a member of any, get to know a few people and their perspectives better. When you share similar ideals, you also probably want to move in a similar direction. Enlarge your world, activate your quiet motivation, take a new step. Perhaps you’re ready to play a stronger role in organizing or in mobilizing, in reaching out to others. Take that step!
Use your whole body — There are so many ways to be involved, whatever your age or situation. I have stood in front of a moving coal train, seeking to stop delivery. I have been arrested, jailed, and am awaiting trial for trespassing. Jane Fonda will be 84 on Dec 21, 2021 and continues to protest and be arrested. You’re not too old or too young. This is the perfect time to try something new, to step out and make a difference in the world. What will your next step be? How will you help to make the world a better place?
Or, if you’ve been active — please know that you can — and should — take care of yourself and take a break.
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