My friends, these are perilous times we’re living through. They began more than a decade ago, and my seven-year-old daughter has lived her entire life through the worst of them. Wars, terrible unemployment, increasing violence, floundering education systems, huge government cuts, failing social welfare… these are tough times. Of course, you already know this because you are living through these times, too. No matter what your station in life, as a youth or parent, teacher or business tycoon, you have felt the impact. Those with fewer resources at the beginning have felt it most. The reports keep pouring in, too, that things are bad and getting worse all the time.
A lot of people find themselves wondering what they can do to change things. A lot of us read self-help books about changing our lives, watch do-it-yourself shows about fixing our things, and look to hopeful movies to get regular injections of positivity in grim times. Other folks are simply throwing their hands up in frustration and giving up. It’s tough being out of work for months at a time, having to rely on friends and family for charity and understanding, or simply for support while you bite your fingernails at the prospect of layoffs at work. Television offers salve, and hikes through the woods calm your soul when it’s most worked up. But for you and I, these things aren’t enough, none of them.
We are fighters. Growing up in fat times, we learned quickly to wean ourselves from the dependence many people have on exterior recognition, internal placation, and cultural subjugation. We became vegans, bought locally, and drove less. We shared meals and greeted strangers, volunteered and opened nonprofits, and wrestled with the social demons that a lot of people ignored. When I started traveling to light up the youth movement, you took a job as a social worker, you brought up three kids on your own, and you helped people learn about how to take care of themselves. Thank you for what you have done and what you are doing right now. We are fighters, and we have been doing great things.
However, our ranks seem to be surrounded, and the enemy seems to be moving in. How can we simply keep going? My answer is this: We don’t. We don’t give in, we don’t give up, we don’t turn around, and we don’t just keep on keeping on. Now is the time to switch up our style and go faster, further, and more; now is the future.
If you have been working with youth, work with them more.
If you have been raising your own kids to be active, start teaching them to be activists.
If you are a teacher, teach better.
If you are a fighter, fight harder.
We need more education for everyone, everywhere, all the time. More hungry mouths exist than ever before- take personal responsibility for feeding them. Offer rides to strangers, especially if they are moms with flocks of kids standing at bus stops in the rain. If you have power, make jobs and employ the unemployed- not people who are hopping from one job to the next, but the unemployed. Lend friends and family anything you can. Share dinner at your house, volunteer at the food bank, talk to the stranger on your way to coffee. Teach a class at the library in your favorite topic, or find your local free school. But do more, please.
Here are Five Steps to Change the World, NOW.