What Can I Do?

Sometimes, when we think about the issues facing our planet, we start to question what kind of impact we can have on the big, bad world.  This attitude, however, is defeatist as well as incorrect.  We can change the world.

And, as Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  If you agree with this sentiment and feel empowered by it, read on.

this picture is from our recent move across the country
we stayed at a lovely LaQuinta (in Kansas) and this, 
which made me smile, was in our room

Question to consider:

What can I do, right now, with the resources that I have?

You don't have to found a world-wide organization to help make the world a better place.  You can do it already, exactly as you are, precisely where you are.

For example, you may have ideas about how to organize a community-wide clean up.  That's great, amazing even, but you need not do it simply because you neglect to see that you could start to clean up your neighborhood at any moment.  Remember the time when Danny and I did our own "Two Hands Project" at the beach?  (If not, take a look here.)

At literally any time we can decide to dedicate ourselves to a cause (or several).  We determine what takes precedence in our minds, our attention, our relationships, and our hearts.

If we, instead of feeling intimidated or like our contribution doesn't matter, take pride in the neighborhood and clean up each time we go out--perhaps on our a nightly stroll--other community members will start to notice how nice the neighborhood looks.  It makes a difference for you to have begun, it makes a difference others will inevitably notice and appreciate, and it actually makes the world a little better.

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Sidenote: Have you ever heard the story about a man, a boy, and the stranded starfish?  (I used to have it at my desk when I taught English.)  According to Good Reads, it's by Loren Eiseley.  I love it and it's exactly what I'm talking about here:

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out 'Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?'

The young man paused, looked up, and replied 'Throwing starfish into the ocean.'

'I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?' asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, 'The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die.'

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, 'But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!'

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, 'It made a difference for that one.'

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I am not attempting to say that organized neighborhood-wide functions are not worth your time, but perhaps what some say about meetings being inefficient is true.  Why complicate it if you can just live it?

Today, my challenge to you is to find a way to do something meaningful for your family, your neighborhood, your greater community, your country, your world.  Whether it's reducing your family's food waste, expressing your love and gratitude for others through everyday gestures, using reusable shopping bags, donating items you no longer need to people who will use them, or looking here for other ways to save money and help the environment, try something new that you can feel great about!

You can make a difference.  You should make a difference.  And you can start today.

Do you have other suggestions for how people can help others/ our world today?  Please leave them in the comments below or on the Facebook or Twitter pages.

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