What Can You Do?
By Rhonda Parrish
The ice caps are melting, oil companies are destroying pristine land, children are starving, genocides continue unabated, oceans are being over fished, forests pillaged and human rights are being trampled everywhere you look. What can you do? Everywhere you turn there are wrongs that need to be righted, things that need to be changed — but you’re just one person! What can you do?
Well, you can sit around feeling bad and thinking about how much better the world would be if people listened to you, you could talk to your like-minded friends about why the world is going to hell and why the human race deserves destruction or you could do something about it.
So you’re only one person, so what? What starts with one person can grow to be more — and if you’re just going to give up rather than TRY to do something to make things better what makes you better than all the people whose actions you despise? I hate to say something as trite as ‘if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem’ but to some extent it’s right. Sure, you can’t save the world all by yourself, but you can make a difference — if you try.
What are you doing to prevent global warming? To protect the environment, stop over fishing and over farming? What are you doing to stand up against the oil companies you rage against? Oil companies, the fishing industry and the lumber industry all spend millions, probably billions of dollars to protect their interests; they advertise, they lobby, they put their money where their mouth is — do you? Have you written a letter to your mayor? Your premier? Your senator? Prime Minister? President? Have you donated time or money to the causes you DO support? Do you refuse to buy products with too much packaging? Recycle? Compost?
Children all over the world are starving, living in poverty without clean water to drink, food to eat or schools to go to. What are you doing to help? “The governments of those countries are so corrupt,” you say, “that when we give them money only a fraction of it makes it to the people who need it.” So? So what? In a world where $100 can make a huge difference in a child’s life, isn’t it worth spending $400 to get that $100 to where it needs to be? So what if most of the money doesn’t get where it belongs –do you think not sending any is the answer? It’s only money. How much is a child’s smile worth? The feeling of a full belly? A mosquito net to prevent malaria? Clean water? How about supporting impoverished children in your home country? Are the food banks too corrupt to deserve your donation?
Genocides occur — still. Despite all the protestations of ‘never again’ they go on. What are you doing? Have you marched against them? Written letters? Sent money to support those who are there dealing with displaced persons and war orphans? Have you educated yourself about what’s going on in your world, or have you just covered your eyes and ears and waited for it all to go away?
Don’t say you can’t afford to do anything — many things that you can do won’t cost you anything — hell, lots of stuff will save you money. Have a yard? Grow your own vegetables. Walk to work instead of driving or take the bus if that’s not plausible. Write your government officials — let them know how you feel. Refuse to support companies whose practices you don’t approve of. Educate yourself and other people about issues going on in the world. And yes, put your money where your mouth is. It’s ridiculous to say that you can’t afford to donate anything to the causes you believe in when you sit in front of a big screen television every night, eat good food and have a roof over your head. Donate something — anything. Give $10 to the food bank, or to feed hungry children in other countries, or buy mosquito nets. Adopt a child in a developing country through Foster Parents Plan or a similar organization. Give money to Amnesty International or environmental groups.
Do something! Anything is better than nothing — the only thing that doing nothing accomplishes is ensuring the status quo. While one person may not be able to save the world all by themselves, they can make a difference. And who knows if people see what you’re doing they may just decide to follow your example and then you just might save the world after all.