Taking Action to Change the World
Brad does it. Leonardo does it. Oprah does it. Bono practically started it in this generation. Celebrity philanthropy seems to be gaining more and more momentum. It’s not hard to envy their wallets, huge spheres of influence and the stamps in their passports, and be left feeling inadequate, not sure if our voice will ever be loud enough to really change the world.
Yet feeling like you’ll never be enough because a Screen Actors Guild Awards invite isn’t in your mailbox is completely baseless. Could it also be a quick argument to justify remaining inactive? If mention of the environment, fair trade, AIDS, human trafficking or poverty strikes passion in your heart, do something about it. Act on it.
10 ways you can go from thinking about a cause to doing something about it.
- Get involved in activities, campaigns and groups that are already underway in your community. Look for groups at your college, workplace or church and offer your time and hands. There’s no better way to gain knowledge, experience and understanding of an issue than by just getting right in there!
- Educate. If you care about an issue and want to spread the news, know what you’re talking about. Gather resources, do some research, purchase a book or two or attend conferences. Get connected to websites like DATA (word being a link to data.org) and stay on the pulse of the issue in the news. Educate yourself and in turn, you can be a wealth of knowledge when spreading the word to others.
- Donate money. Yes, it’s the most obvious way to support a cause, but it really is the lifeline to organizations that are trying to alleviate poverty, make trade fair and slow the spread of AIDS. You have the ability, whether it’s a dollar or a hundred dollars, to make a difference with your wallet. On the same lines, you could also use your money to sponsor a child in need or generate more money by organizing a fundraiser.
- Volunteer. This is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. Regardless of whether you have an hour to spare or an entire day, you’re putting your brain, time, hands and voice into the cause.
Volunteer locally or with big organizations in anything from the local hospice or hospital to care for those affected by AIDS, at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter or by cleaning up litter and planting trees. Get connected with help from VolunteerMatch or govolunteer.com.
- Be practical. Everybody in everyday things can make choices to make a difference. Bike or walk instead of driving, buy fair-trade coffee, purchase only what you really need at the grocery store, give extra clothes away, plant a garden and use lower-energy light bulbs. The list continues. In time, instead of a daily conscious effort, it becomes a lifestyle.
- Career. Use whatever you’re taking in school or doing as a job and find a way to channel those same skills and talents towards something making a difference for your cause. If you want to make a change or haven’t decided on a vocation yet, consider a career in social justice.
- Travel. Go on a trip and volunteer with an organization like GAiN. The travel industry is catering more and more to travelers, so if it’s building houses, saving endangered species or digging wells for clean water, the experience is there for the taking. It’s an incredible opportunity to witness and truly understand the heart of an issue. Also, think of volunteering in the place of that next vacation.
- Start a group or non-profit. You can start a local community initiative, build a non-profit or partner with an existing effort.
- Politics. Vote and get active in local and national politics. It doesn’t take a keen interest in elections and party policy to take advantage of your voice as a citizen. Either on your own or as part of a group, write politicians and find out how your countries policies are affecting a cause and how you can be a part of changing it.
Support politicians and bills that back the right causes and issues, participate in non-violent protests or lobby for greater accountability in how our government’s choices affect the world.
- Be relational. When a panhandler asks you for money, take him out for lunch. Over a meal, talk and get to know that person. Caring about poverty is one thing, putting a face to someone living in it is another. Invest time and seek out relationships you can build to better serve those in need.
It doesn’t take six zero’s in your paycheck, your name up in lights or a private jet to do any of these things. So while it may seem that Bono and Brad have a greater ability to make a difference, they are doing the exact same things on this list – just on a different scale. Maybe all it takes is the realization that, celebrity or not, only you can choose to utilize who you are, where you are and what you have to change the world.
“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer