What Should We Do Now? by Janet Maker

Jun 26, 2016 by

What Should We Do Now?   by Janet Maker

The Good News website and newsletter are intended not only to make us feel better, to help counteract the depressing barrage of terrible news in the media, but also to chronicle a cultural change.

As the world shifts from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, most of the major institutions have become unstable.  People have lost confidence to one degree or another in government, the military, banking, medicine, education, business, religion, and the media.  The family, the backbone institution of all societies, is morphing too, to include all sorts of permutations: single parent households, gay families, and the 27% (in 2013) of Americans who live alone. Workers are spending more time trying to make ends meet as the rich get richer.  Some changes are truly horrific, like endless wars, nukes, and climate change.  People are frightened and angry. Confronting authority is daunting, so many people turn their fear and anger on scapegoats, like immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims, and we see extreme reactions like Trumpism and the Brexit.

Corporate and alternative media, on both the left and the right, are eager to decry the corruption and ignorance of the other side, yet they rarely offer any practical solutions.  Politicians will tell you the solution is to vote for them, but once in office they become part of the problem.  Looking for political leaders to help us rarely works; instead of choosing the candidate who will provide solutions, the two-party system forces us to choose the lesser evil.  And even that pitiful choice is not really available, because of the rigging of the entire electoral process.  Great moral leaders like Gandhi, Mandela, and King come along very rarely, and they end up assassinated or jailed.

So who can we rely on to bring about needed change?  OMG—maybe it’s us!!!

It’s true that as individuals we don’t have much power, but we can always do something. And if all of the 7.2 billion people on Earth did something that they thought would help somebody, it would add up to something big.   I think that doing something is vital, because feeling helpless and doing nothing will only lead to despair.

It seems that change can only come from courageous individuals and grassroots groups, whether they serve to change public opinion, pressure politicians, or whether they are building something new.  They are whistleblowers, protestors, and people who use their skills to experiment with positive alternatives for the old institutions, protect life on earth, make peace instead of war, and increase the amount of kindness and compassion in the world.   We try to provide inspiration on this site for us to do the same, by providing links to Featured Readers, Featured Charities, Recommended Readings, and petitions to sign.

We can all start with small, easy things.  We can make kindness and generosity our rule.  We can become aware of how we treat other people and make the effort to stop judging them.  We can give compliments, thank people for things we usually take for granted, tell people we appreciate them, make eye contact and smile at people who serve us in stores and restaurants.  We can stop criticizing.  We can practice random acts of kindness. We can open our minds and our hearts by noticing things that are good and beautiful and feeling grateful for them. We can be kind to animals.  We can contribute money or time to worthy causes, sign petitions, write letters to the editor and to our legislators.  We can use our consumer dollars to support manufacturers and retailers whose products do not contain carcinogens or harm the environment, who treat their workers fairly, and who support fair trade. We can speak up when we see injustice. We can give money or food to beggars. We can clean up trash and stop wasting food or water.  We can recycle.  We can buy an electric car or a bicycle. We can plant drought resistant gardens.  We can eat less meat.  We can buy from farmers’ markets or grow our own produce. We can educate ourselves about issues that affect us. These are small things that can have a big impact but don’t require much commitment on our part.  The rewards, in terms of the love and joy they will bring to our lives, can be substantial.

Bigger commitments can bring bigger rewards.  Among the things that have brought the most joy to my life were adopting two babies and rescuing six dogs.  I think there should be a service that matches homeless people and refugees with people who have extra room and big hearts.  Maybe you or I will start a service like that one day.

We can work for whatever stirs our passions, whether it’s politics, children, animals, corporate accountability, food safety, income inequality, campaign finance reform, or the environment.  We can donate whatever skills we have, whether it’s fundraising, graphic design, writing, community organizing, filmmaking, counseling, teaching, gardening, caring for animals, children, or the elderly, knitting, baking, or anything else.  If you don’t know what you want to work for, you can look at Volunteermatch.org and try whatever piques your interest.

If you keep trying different things, sooner or later something will feel right.  This is the way we change the world.

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