When we’re younger and in school, we have a strong sense of community. Our activities are often centred around volunteering, and giving back is second nature.
But then life gets busy. We grow up. Work takes priority. Things get harder. We comment on global events amongst ourselves, but carry on as usual. We’ll share our condolences on Twitter and jump on the latest hashtag, but, when all is said and done, we stay home. Sure, we all donate the odd amount and sign the odd petition, but how often do you really make the effort to positively impact the world around you?
If I’m being honest, I certainly don’t enough.
And I’ve all too often thought “well, what difference can I make? I’m just one person.” Wrong.
It’s too easy to think you can’t do anything. It’s too easy to dismiss the system as “rigged”. It’s too easy to feel helpless and dismiss yourself.
And yes, we don’t have control over who the president is or Brexit or any of 2016’s atrocities. They have been decided. But we do have control over what we do next.
You are not helpless. Not even close. You, right where you are, with what you have, have the capability and power to make a positive difference in your own way. In the face of hatred, we must love harder. In the face of adversity, there is no time for complacency.
Here are five (actionable) ways you can get started. Because you and me? We have work to do.
Turn your anger into action. Whether you choose to volunteer as a one-off occasion or on a regular basis, public services, charities, hospitals, food banks, the homeless and many others in your local community need your help. Now. Perhaps you feel like you’re too busy. But if you have time for Netflix, you have time to volunteer. Time is how you spend your love. How could you be better spending yours?
BECOME A MENTOR
I’m a huge believer in both mentoring and reverse mentoring. Maybe you could share your skills with a young woman just starting out? Or perhaps you could start a mentoring scheme at work, encouraging your employers to engage more with people from disadvantaged backgrounds? Start small, but always think big.
And if you feel you could benefit from being mentored by me, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m serious, reach out! I would love to hear from you.
A few months back, I had some pretty painful conversations with my dad. He was planning on voting to leave the EU, and over the series of a few weeks, I calmly convinced him not to. How? By explaining the implications for me, his daughter. I only wish I had spoken to his friends, too. Next time I won’t hesitate and you shouldn’t either. The same goes for sharing ideas and concerns with disengaged friends and co-workers. Don’t steer the conversation away from hard topics. You can't afford to stay silent during moments of injustice.
I have so much love for this tweet by Walter Chaw:
Writers? Write. Artists? Paint. Dancers? Dance. Filmmakers? Film. Creation trumps destruction and division. Do it with your whole heart.
To yourself and others. Recognise when people may be struggling with the constant stream of disappointing news. Check in with the people you know and love. Keep fighting for and supporting everyone, but focus even more on those affected the most by oppression. And, as cliche as it sounds, “be the light you want to see in the world”.
Change is slow, but it’s a hell of a lot faster if we all pitch in.