A lot of us are scared right now. As a country and as citizens we are starting a new journey and that is not going to be easy. We need to do something to make things change. But it can be overwhelming to know where to start, even. Here is a list of 40 things I came up with that we can do today to start making the world around us a little better.
With Your Words:
- Have real conversations about what’s going on. Talk to people you love. Talk to people you haven’t talked to in a while. Talk to the kinds of people you never talk to (like those Jehovah’s witnesses or Mormons who come to your door.) Don’t stay silent. Don’t be polite and not talk politics.
- Learn to Listen. Being Progressive and Well-educated does not mean yours is the only thought that is legitimate. Being a serious and devout Christian does not mean that you have direct access to God’s opinions.
- Think twice before hitting send on that nasty retort/tweet/comment. Many of us are grieving right now. Many of us are not being our best selves. Try not to add to the nastiness.
- Along with that: Give the person you’re talking to the benefit of the doubt. Most of us are trying our best to do what’s right. Unless you have concrete evidence to suggest otherwise, assume the person you’re talking to is, as well.
- Stop living in an echo chamber. Don’t unfriend that person who has incredibly different beliefs than you. If you realize every opinion/way of thinking you come across sounds like yours, find a way to meet people who don’t think like you. It can be remarkably rewarding to have ones’ cherished beliefs challenged.
- Disagree with people in your echo chamber. Sometimes it’s necessary, and we will all be better if we hold each other accountable.
- Don’t use politically correct policing to shut down conversations. We need more conversations, not fewer. And we need to learn to have better conversations.
With Your Resources:
- Use your dollar consciously. Define for yourself the things that are important to you and start using your dollar to support them.
- Support the US Job Market. Buy things made here.
- Support your local economy. Buy things made on a small scale in your area. Even if they cost a little more.
- Volunteer for a nonprofit. Pick one cause or issue that you care about right now. Go online and research people who are working for that cause. Call one organization and put yourself on their volunteer list.
To Help People in Marginalized Groups:
- Wear a safety pin on your shirt or jacket to signal to people who are feeling threatened in public that you will stand up for them if they face harassment. This also signals to non-marginalized people that you believe in caring for others who are being threatened.*
- Help someone who is being harassed. This comic shows how to do so safely.
- Give $50 to the ACLU.
- Give $50 to Planned Parenthood.
- Intentionally bring your business to establishments run by marginalized groups. For instance, make a decision to have your car serviced regularly at a repair shop run by Mexicans. There are very few jobs open to most Mexicans in our country. Show your support with your dollar.
- Buy books by non-caucasians. These folk have a harder time getting published than everyone else. Show the industry that there is a market for diverse voices.
- Spend an hour educating yourself on issues faced by a marginalized group you are unfamiliar with.
To Help the Planet:
- If you are in the market for one, Buy a car that gets at least 30 miles/gallon.
- Stop using disposable cups. Either plan ahead better so you make your own coffee at home or make it a habit to bring one of those Starbucks mugs around with you.
- Set a timer on your showers.
- Actually look up the laws for recycling in your area and recycle everything that can be.
- Start a compost pile in your back yard. You can literally do this in a bucket if you’ve got no space. It’s not actually a big deal, and you really don’t have to even turn it or anything. But it makes good soil you can use for planting things. If you don’t plant things, give it to your next door neighbor.
- Stop using disposable grocery bags.
- Buy Used. Do all your clothes really need to be straight off the rack?
- Also, Buy things that are better made and use them longer.
As a Parent:
- Talk to your children about how they should treat others. Have a conversation with your children, especially your boys, about what it is and is not right to say to or about another person. Make sure they know that you believe that women are not objects and that people should not be bullied based on their race, religion, or physical abilities.
- Tell your children you respect them. And let them know that you expect them to live up to that respect.
- Give your kids mental health days and the freedom to choose when to take them.
To Be a Better Citizen:
- Look up every single one of your local and state elected officials and make a point to know what they stand for.
- Put your children back in Public School. If that school isn’t good enough, then use your time and resources to make it better.
- Read. Don’t take everything at face value. Look up the constitution and see what it actually says. Make an effort to read thoughtful opinions. Make an effort to read thoughtful opinions that go against yours.
- Look up the history of the two party system in America. Stop assuming that all Conservatives or all Progressives are stupid/angry/evil.
- Pay for news, and read it. Good journalism only exists of someone pays for it.
To Be a Kinder Person:
- Let someone go ahead of you in traffic.
- Smile at the person checking out your groceries.
- Make eye contact with the homeless person on the corner.
- Make an effort to notice the mental/emotional/physical state of the members of your community.
- Make chocolate chip cookies for someone who is hurting.
- Make chicken noodle soup for someone who is sick.
*Progressive communities are arguing about whether this is a worthwhile thing to do. I think it is, but don’t do it to be smug and self-satisfied and to signal to other members of your progressive community that you are a good person. Intent matters here.