A long time ago in blogging time (a year and a half ago) Jozet at Halushki shared with me an email she'd gotten about "everybody DRESS ALIKE on Friday to show support for the troops."
I'm enough of a Cynic and a Realist to think the troops don't give a rat's rear about how we dress here. Not while checking the ground for bombs and so forth.
I figured they care about (in no specific order) (a) care packages, (b) getting home alive, in one piece, and (c) doing their job to the best of their ability.
So, while they might get a brief second of joy out of seeing a sea of red shirts in a photo or something, I felt pretty sure a better way to support the troops was to (a) send a care package, (b) pressure politicians to get our troops home, alive, in one piece and (c) find ways to enable them to succeed (so they could do their jobs to the best of their ability).
I got so caught up in doing that I forgot to remember to definitely not wear red that Friday.
I did, however, remember to blog about it. I wrote, "You passive activists...you guys ROCK! You are what makes this country PROUD!"
It was quite the sarcastic, cynical little rant, and although in there were a few valuable nuggets, I think, on the whole, it was too focused, which caused it to be dismissive of potential value in writing or quiet messages.
It's not necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Words are powerful. Words can educate, inform, and motivate.
I thought about this concept, and remembered that old post, when I read Mad's blog yesterday and her introduction to the excellent and lengthy list of Just Posters from November.
Mad questioned whether this was a sort of "Facebook activism" whereby we lull ourselves into complacency and think a post or registering a protest is enough.
Although I definitely spend a lot of time with my good friends Disdain and Cynicism, they are nowhere to be found when it comes to the Just Posts.
I think participants in Just Post are already out doing a lot. When they write about it, they convey information and experience, which causes people to begin thinking differently. When people think differently, they do differently, and may even vote differently. Their prioritization of issues may shift.
I can safely say that being in the monthly company of such an Inspiring group of Doers keeps me motivated to get out and do more.
It does take a time and effort commitment. That can be a challenge for those of us who are mothers of young children.
Still, I think if we each continue to watch for and seize each opportunity that comes our way---that which we can manage to do---then we are doing. More, we are doing our part to somehow make this world a little better when we leave it than when we entered it.
Each little thing we do matters. It's worth it.
So maybe one person makes signs and another person testifies before the EPA. Maybe one person takes food to the homebound and another person organizes a large shipment of care packages to Iraq. Someone does copious research about each candidate's stand on health care and someone else donates a cake to a fundraiser. This person might participate in a march on Washington that came about because that person started a Facebook activist group.
We are all activists in some way. It matters. Big or little.
As a result of my "abstinence-only education is ineffective" posts I learned more people in my community are unhappy with the social education the school district offers than I imagined. I found more people who wished things were taught differently. It lead to a great conversation with a few people and the decision to begin diplomatic efforts to improve the social education within the school districts. It opened up intriguing conversation with local politicians.
As a result of my long-ago post about being opposed to some development in my area, I've joined up with a group of citizens who have now organized to oppose, en masse, development that we believe is unsound environmentally, ecologically, and community-wise.
It all begins with an idea. Ideas are expressions of our consciousness, and when we share them we increase other consciousness. And that? Is the wind of change.
The wind of change is blowing through the continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact.
---typically attributed to Harold MacMillan ~ 1960ish (?)
If you haven't had a chance to yet, check out the inspirational and motivational Just Posts from November.
That said, I want to say I understand people who feel overwhelmed or as if they can't do enough.
Any time of year it's easy to get bogged down with need requests and things we ought to do to make a difference.
But this month---Dread December---it gets overwhelming. Blogs posts, blog movements, Facebook movements, phone calls, emails, hallway hitups, newspaper pleas, television pressure, and so on all compete with one another for my time, money and effort.
I find myself, in December, growing irritated by the constant hitups. Pledge this, help with that, buy this, donate that...join this movement. It's like a plague.
December isn't the only month that there is need, but it is certainly the month we believe people are most likely to be generous, and that's when the need requests start coming out of the woodwork.
Here's a truth about me: I am more likely to say NO in December because I am flat out totally burnt out overwhelmed. Ask me in June. Offer me babysitting.
I am in full sympathy with every person who is feeling like a disappointment to the cause right now. It's tough to have to say 50 nos for every one yes. It does make you feel like you aren't doing enough, and when you feel like that, you feel powerless, and when you feel powerless and overwhelmed? It's easy to slide into doing nothing or doing too much.
I think we need to rework how and when we beg for people's help and support. Unfocus it from December. Break it apart and spread it out across the year.
Give people a break and get better results.
And for those of you who feel like you don't do enough, I really believe every little and big bit counts.
You know what they say about toddlers and eating: don't think about it across a day, think about it across a week.
Think that way about helping. Don't consider it solely in the here and now, consider it across your lifetime. We all have different abilities and resources that shine at different points.
Just do what you can; that's what you can do.
Note: Reminder...Wednesday's Hump Day is courtesy of Maddy of whittereronautism: personal pet peeves, we all have them, but I like the unique ones. Ones that other people don't share and most importantly, the why?
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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