I believe that taking a stand for causes you’re passionate about is important. Rather than just sitting around, complaining about the state of the world, it is up to all of us to do something about it. Taking a stand helps make our community a better place for everyone to live. Becoming active in causes you believe in, will give you new insights into people and issues, and transform how you see the world. It expands our empathy, giving a better understanding of how other people live and think, and what they struggle with. Nothing helps you own your power more than standing up for something you strongly believe in.
Activating around a cause doesn’t necessarily have to be political. If politics aren’t your brand of disco, there are a ton of other ways to make a difference. I have friends who are active in animal rescue, women’s issues, health and disease concerns and research, promoting the arts, helping children and people with disabilities. The list goes on and on. You have to find what makes your heart sing and go for it. Or, what chaps your hide? If “these kids today” are making you lose hope in tomorrow, volunteer to tutor at a high school or find a way to mentor young people. Just do something! (Get some ideas from this Sedgwick County Community Council Resource Guide.)
All causes you choose to support, need your help on an ongoing basis. There are so many causes, it’s hard to know where to start. Trying to do too much, for too many causes, will burn you out quickly. Choose your battles. Know your limits and do what you can, without overwhelming yourself. Rather than trying to do everything, choose one action to be a leader on, one action to be a follower for, and one action to make a habit.
To be realistic about life, there will be some causes we’re passionate about, that we’ll just have to let others attend to. That’s okay. As an overachiever, I’ve had to realize I’m just one person and can’t do it all by myself, and it’s selfish to even think I can. Set a boundary for yourself by deciding how much time, on average, per week you’re able to dedicate yourself towards. This will help budget your time, to decide how involved you can be, and how many causes you can support.
Here are some other tips for you:
Join an established organization and volunteer
Look for local organizations that are already established and get involved. If you can give one hour of your time a week, that’s 52 hours a year that you’ve worked to make a difference. Even the busiest people can manage that.
Giving money to organizations that that work on causes you care about is a simple way to make a big difference. Research organizations you plan to give money to or raise funds for so you know where your money will go and what it will pay for.
If you see something, do something
No matter what it is, if you see something that doesn’t look right, do something. Take
videos on your phone and share it. Report harassment, whether you or someone else is the
victim. Get help to rescue animals in danger. Pick up litter you see in your path. Every little
bit makes a difference somewhere.
Offer moral support to vocal friends
Working on causes can be frustrating, hard work. Help keep people motivated by checking in on your active friends, thanking them for their hard work and encourage them to keep going. Let them know they’re not alone. Be an ally for friends who deal with oppression. Remember to take care of yourself as well, you can’t advocate if you ignore your own health
Speak your truth
No matter which cause you fight for, don’t let anyone convince you that you don’t have a voice, and that what you have to say isn’t valid or important. There are always going to be people who don’t have the same priorities and opinions. It is perfectly acceptable to agree to disagree. It is not acceptable to take away other’s rights to be heard, even when we don’t agree. Ignore the trolls.
Let your money talk
Deciding which companies to do business with, based on their business practices and who
they give charitable contributions to, sends a powerful message. Research the companies
you spend money with to find out what and who they support.
Do your research
It’s easy to get pulled into sensationalist websites that are in business to make money from advertising, not reporting the facts, especially when the stories support your views. To make sure the news is accurate, do some research before sharing by doing a browser search for other articles on the same topic to find out if the site is reputable.
Call your elected officials
No matter what your cause, the most effective ways to let elected officials know where you
stand is by calling them. If you’re not sure what to say or don’t feel confident about making the call, do some research and script out a statement that’s short, sweet and to the point.
One of our biggest responsibilities as citizens is to let our voice be heard by voting, in every election. Take time to find out the platforms of your representatives, rather than voting for one party, to find the candidates that align best with your beliefs. Don’t skip primaries and local elections. They are just as important, if not more so, than national elections.
What action will you take?