Let's start with some basic factaroos:
We are at the most peaceful, arguably prosperous time in world history, and yet only a small portion of the world is particularly happy about it. Everyone's just OK with it.
I wake up every morning wondering what fresh hell the world has unleashed upon us.
So we're faced with two choices. We can either surrender in the face of a seemingly awful world, or we can choose to do the best that we can. Best I can figure it, we can't change the big national stuff on our own. That's not within our purview. What we can do is think, and act, locally. But acting is hard -- what do you do when there's so much that you could do? I want to make it easy. Here's an action plan for these times of crisis. Follow the steps here, and I promise we can start to make things better.
THINGS YOU CAN DO...
Text RESIST to 50409 on your phone. This is ResistBot, and he helps you instantly write faxes, letters, and e-mails to your elected officials in Washington. The entire process takes about two minutes. You should do this every day.
Ask the people around you if they voted in the last election. If they didn't, ask them to promise you that they'll vote in the mid-term elections in November. Spread this message to as many people as you can. Post about it on Facebook.
Speak out about things you think are wrong. You don't need to be eloquent. You don't need to be a master orator. Keep it simple if you want: "______ is wrong". The only way that your voice will be heard is if you raise your voice.
Read the news. Not an American news source -- if you don't think you can politically trust media in the United States, then trust the media from another nation who has no incentive to report American news one way or another. I like to read:
BBC - The British Broadcasting Company, a news agency funded by the British taxpayers. British government leans right.
Le Monde - France's most prominent news source. Sorry, you have to read French for this one, but they're great.
Der Spiegel - Spiegel Online is in English, so you can check these people out. German government leans left.
Use the information you learn from international, unbiased media sources to make conclusions, and then talk about them. Much like the 'Right Now' point, it's important you keep raising your voice and using your knowledge. Don't spread bad information, only spread accurate information you can link a source back to.
Find a way to volunteer locally. National change begins on a local level, and your hands are needed to help turn the wheels of the world. You don't need to volunteer politically if you don't want to -- just focus on making your community better. Here are some ways to volunteer to help your community... none of them are sexy, but they'll make a difference over time:
• Volunteer at a local elementary school; call the front office and ask if they can use help. They probably can.
• Go pick up trash in a common space. Again, I told you it wasn't sexy, but clean spaces are generally safer and happier spaces.
• Call your local City Hall and ask if the city needs volunteers to operate any city events or programs.
• Call the local animal shelter and volunteer to help. You might get to hold some puppies or kitties!
• Volunteer at the local food pantry. Here's a list of places to get you started.
• Head down to the local library and ask if they need any volunteers to shelve books or organize things.
• Call an old folks home and ask if they need anyone to visit with the residents and volunteer. You will always, always, always be able to volunteer at an old folks home.
I know you're thinking this seems like a lot of work. It is, I'm sorry. If changing the world was easy, everyone would do it. Instead, choose to be the kind of person who is going to make a difference. You don't need to do it every day, just maybe once a week.
Skip having a cup of coffee, or bring lunch from home. Take the money you would have spent on that meal, and instead donate it to a group doing important work domestically. Donate to match a cause you care about -- pissed about civil rights? Try the American Civil Liberties Union. Angry about Net Neutrality? Say hi to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Mad about the racism against refugees in America? The International Rescue Committee does good work.
Plan a community event. Even if it's only to invite your neighbors into your home, it's important to know the people around you. It's much harder for others to be cruel to people that they know, so begin the process of humanizing everyone around you.
Plan and attend a community event. Community theater, a political rally, whatever. Be active in your community. Hell, go to a city council meeting, nobody ever does that.
Tell other people that caring is cool. Cynicism needs to stop being the default for us; it's time to embrace active happiness and optimism. Push others to dream a little bigger too.
RINSE AND REPEAT FOREVER
BUT I CAN'T...
Yes you can. Look, we're all incredibly busy. I work an average of 12 hour days five days a week, and an extra 10 hours across the weekend. The point is this: you can choose the things you care about. We invest our lives in the things that matter to us, so choose what matters... making a difference in the world, or feeling helpless in the face of bigger circumstances.
I have kids, I can't.
Yes you can, take your kids to volunteer. This builds character in your kids, and will make them rockstars when they apply for college in the future.
I can't volunteer, I work too much, and I can't afford to not work.
OK, I understand this -- double down by speaking out extra to the people you know. Be somewhat annoying if you have to. Urge other people to be better.
I just don't care enough.
Well, that's fair enough. I can't argue that. But the next time you're feeling helpless, know that there's a place to start.