The past month has been pretty brutal for the United States.
There have been multiple hurricanes. Controversy over standing or not standing during the national anthem. The largest mass shooting in the history of the country.
Name calling. Racism. Millions of people suffering. Hundreds of deaths.
What do we do?
We voice our shock. We voice our sympathies. We voice our frustrations.
But most of us don’t actually do anything.
Praying is great.
But praying doesn’t change the problems we are currently facing. Neither does complaining.
We can share stories of injustices on Facebook. We can post articles.
We can try to convince the people who don’t get it to get it.
But you can’t force people to change. There is a good chance that the people who are unwilling to take a look at themselves, who point fingers and who play the blame game are never going to get it.
So it’s up to you. It’s up to me.
Complaining will not change anything. Praying won’t do anything.
Change requires action.
And the action has to start with you.
And then with your children. Work from the inside out.
You can teach your children about racism. You can teach your children how the government works. You can model for your children what it means to be responsible citizens. You can talk to your children about mental illness. You can stop the stigma in your home. You can teach your children how to disagree while still being respectful. You can teach your children to be accepting of all people.
And you can take action.
If you don’t know where to begin, here are 52 suggestions.
- Educate yourself on how the United States government works.
- Know who your state’s senators are. (Hint: you have two).
- Know who your state’s representatives are. The number of representatives your state has depends on its population. Connecticut only has five. California has fifty something. At least know the representative for your district.
- Know how your congressmen voted on the issues that really matter to you.
- Register to vote.
- Know how your local government works.
- Know who the members of your Board of Ed are.
- Know who the members of your Board of Finance are.
- Know who the members of your Board of Selectmen are.
- If your town government doesn’t have a BOE, a BOF and BOS, educate yourself on how your local government works. And know who is in it.
- Know how your town’s elected officials voted on issues that are important to you.
- Attend a board of ed meeting.
- Attend a PTO meeting.
- Vote in your local elections.
- Volunteer to help make campaign phone calls in your town’s local elections for the candidates you support.
- Email your congressmen with concerns you have regarding policies/bills/etc.
- Take your children with you when you vote.
- Know your neighbors’ first names.
- Drop by your neighbors’ house with a gift. Give them a cup of sugar. Just as a gesture. Let them know you are there for them.
- Write a note to your child’s teacher. Just because. Thank them.
- Volunteer at a shelter on Thanksgiving with your family.
- Invite a family of another race to your home for dinner.
- Invite a family of another religion to your home for dinner.
- Attend a church service of a faith different than yours.
- Visit a nursing home with your first grader. Let her read a story to one of the residents. Or let one of the residents read a story to your first grader.
- Buy a lottery ticket and give it to the first person you see.
- Pay for the coffee of the person behind you.
- Start a God Money Fund.
- Go grocery shopping in an ethnic food market that is different from your ethnicity.
- “Adopt” a family for Christmas.
- For your kid’s next birthday party, request donations to the charity of his/her choice in lieu of gifts.
- Donate blood.
- Practice kindness daily.
- Write a note to your spouse telling him/her one thing you appreciate about him/her.
- Make dinner for an overwhelmed friend.
- Apologize to someone you’ve hurt. “I’m sorry for ___________.” Leave it at that. No BUT….. afterward.
- Practice gratitude daily.
- Hold a door open for someone.
- Return someone’s shopping cart.
- Give a friend a break and watch her kids for the afternoon.
- Listen. Without speaking.
- Acknowledge people when you walk past them.
- Mail a hand-written letter to a friend.
- Share your experience with mental illness with someone.
- Eat dinner together as a family.
- Share a mistake you made with your kids. Explain what you learned from it to them.
- Forgive people.
- Stop name calling.
- Find a good therapist
- Move your body at least ten minutes every day.
- Stop complaining.
Imagine if 100 people checked off one thing on that list each week.
That would be 5,200 changes in this country in the next year. Imagine if 1,000 people did this. Imagine if 1,00,000 did this!
5,200 actions will be much more effective than 5,200 complaints, “dislikes” and angry face emojis on Facebook.
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Pick something from the list.
Be the change.