"Be the change you want to see in the world"
Changing the world can seem like a daunting task. Where do we start, what can we do, how much will it cost, and if I volunteer will I miss Big Bang Theory? Well we don’t all have to have the commitment Mother Teresa did. If everyone in North America adopted these five easy to follow instructions we could have the better world we all want within a few years. Have a look and more importantly, give it a try.
Spread a Little Skepticism
It doesn’t take long to recall the last time you read, or perhaps posted a completely ridiculous conspiracy theory, false news article, or re-posted a letter from the Daughter of The Nigerian Republic of New Congo asking you for your banking information so that she can access her Father’s money and give you a cool million in the process. Falling for these ridiculous stories can be anything from hilarious to disastrous depending on the nature of the falsehood. There is something you can do to prevent this from happening… spread a little skepticism. You don’t have to do-do on everything you read or tell your sweet old Grandma that your pretty sure God doesn’t exist; you just need to sow a little doubt into their lives. What you should do is Snoops articles for your friends and family from time to time. Post the results underneath and voila, the seed is planted. When a friend or colleague makes the mistake of saying something racist, bigoted or in some other way revealing their ignorance of another culture, call them out on it. Don’t just insult them back, actually teach them why it is wrong, maybe they didn’t even realize. Pointing out the lies in the world makes it just a little harder for the liars out there to rip the rest of us off.
I have a confession to make… I can’t watch more than 5 minutes of a World Vision commercial without sponsoring a child. That may not seem like a bad thing but when you’re collecting unemployment and you have 3 sponsor children, a stay at home wife, and a three year old son money can get a little tight. The good thing is, you don’t need money to fight poverty, it helps, but there are a few things you can do to fight poverty without spending a dime. The first is by voting. Look at what your political candidates are saying they will do to combat poverty in your area, your country or in the world. What is their party track record, do they have a solid history of helping the poor or is this just a ploy to get your vote? The second thing you can do is to volunteer with a poverty fighting charity. The less a charity has to spend on paying employees to do jobs that volunteers can do, the more money they can spend on actual aid. If you don’t know which charity to support ask the next street entrenched person you see who you should volunteer for. They’ll give you the low down on every charity in the city. For the less brave, ask a social worker, but keep in mind they’ll likely have a bias towards their own organization. If you still don’t know who to volunteer for or if you want to spend some money there are a few good Charity watchdog groups out there, see who they recommend.
Gandhi on Non-Violence
Fighting violence is not a misnomer, it means resisting violence through non-violent means as demonstrated by the Anabaptists, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Violence is never a good thing and using violence never ends violence, only prolongs it. If you want proof, just look at the 4000 years of conflict in the Middle East. When pacifists confront violence it tends to go poorly at first, but then something amazing happens. The rest of the world gets sickened by the violence and stands up with the pacifists. When they start demanding a change too and pretty soon the guy with the gun feels stupid and goes home. Pacifism begins at home, whether it’s taking the time to teach children rather than just spanking them or talking to your neighbor about the noise levels instead of calling the police you set an example for change. This is not an easy step for us North Americans because Pacifists don’t often get their way… but that’s the point. The world would be a much better place if people didn’t feel so entitled to taking everythng they wanted.
What are you fighting for?
Fighting disease is one of the biggest battles you could fight after all, diseases has always been humankinds most talented killer because they are not easy to fight. But there are many things we can do to reduce the spread, mitigate the effects, and eliminate disease. The first thing you can do is wash your hands and wear a mask when you have a cold. I won’t harp on about washing your hands; you all see the commercials and the signs, if they can’t convince you I doubt I can. Masks on the other hand haven’t caught on in North America yet, but I hope to help change that. You see, I used to laugh when I saw people wearing the medical masks because I thought they were wearing them to protect themselves. It wasn’t till a few months later I realized they were wearing the mask to protect me from their viral infection. They were withstanding my ridicule to keep me safe, needless to say I felt pretty bad for judging them. Another thing you can do is bring meals to and help out people who are sick. They are tired and they will take longer to get better if they don’t eat well or work too hard, so have a heart and help them out. Finally, get your shots against polio, measles, etc… and keep outbreaks of those diseases in our more distant past.
Take a Step Towards Fair Trade
Stop Being a Consumer
The biggest plague affecting our society is consumerism. Now before you mislabel me, hear me out. When I say fight consumerism, I don’t mean we need to stop supporting the businesses that employ us. I mean that we should let our heart weigh in along with our brains when we decide what to buy at the supermarket and everywhere else. When I was fairly young I realized that Tuna had two options, Dolphin friendly and cheap. I remember hearing the outraged people on the radio on the way to the grocery store and I remember pleading with my mom to buy the Dolphin Friendly tuna. To my knowledge I don’t believe you can’t get non-dolphin friendly tuna, which is a very good thing. This has caused many to wonder though, what about people friendly options? It is sobering to look at the supply chain of almost all of our food, electronics and clothing. Sugar and Bananas are some of the worst culprits with their use of flesh eating pesticides that cause disfigurement and death in many of the field workers in countries most shoppers have never heard of. What about electronics companies that work their employees 16 hours a day, with little no breaks and even put nets under the windows so that they can’t commit suicide to escape their working conditions? Then we have the millions of sweat shops filled with slaves, indentured servants and underpaid workers scattered across the world providing us clothing cheaper then we could ever make ourselves.
Where is the public outrage we heard when we realized that dolphins we’re being killed? Where are the people friendly products? Well I may not know the answer to the first question but there are more and more “people friendly” products hitting our shelves each day. They have names like locally grown, organic and fair trade. More often than not, these products have higher price tags and for those of us not from California, some products aren’t available out of season. But as they grow in popularity the price comes down and more producers enter the fray. Why would they when it’s cheaper to hurt people? Well, when we pay the higher price items we are saying to the producers of the world that we want them to raise the standards even if that means raising the prices a little. If enough of us say this they will all listen and maybe our children can look back on the time when there were still two options; people friendly and not. Just ask the dolphins.