Like many people, I spent the past couple of days alternating between rage, sorrow, and feelings of powerlessness. So many powerful people in the world seem intent on stirring up hatred and creating divides among the people…what could one person, someone with not very much money or important connections, possibly do to counteract that? Despair and fear are exactly what opponents hope to foster in us, however. If we let ourselves succumb, we become paralyzed and unable to help the people around us who may be suffering more than we are.
I decided I didn’t want to be helpless, and that I would use whatever resources and privileges I had to help those who were not as fortunate as me. I know that I cannot save everyone, cannot defeat all the evil or heal all the wounds, but if I’m only able to do one good thing for someone I will consider it a success. Here are 9 ways that you can help the people around you and make the world better in the days ahead, complete with suggestions of how to accomplish them.
1. Practice love. Reach out to your neighbors and friends, especially those who are women, non-Christian, LGBTQ, or non-white. Give them love in the form of hugs, offers to help out in their lives, shared meals, and listening ears. If you see someone being abused, mistreated, or talked down to because they don’t fit the white American stereotype, speak up right then. Defend them, protect them, get them to a safe place, and foster environments where they feel empowered.
- Compliment five people a day.
- Give encouraging notes to minorities celebrating their accomplishments.
- Bake cookies for your next door neighbor.
2. Volunteer. This is not the time to be passive and silent, but to protest and get involved. Not only does it actively show what you’re passionate about, but working towards a goal that’s bigger than you will help you connect with your community and encourage those who may be feeling sidelined.
- Offer to babysit (for free) for a single parent to give them a night off.
- Ask to take the dogs at the animal shelter for walks and to play with the cats.
- Help residents at your local women’s shelter by driving them to work.
3. Remember to care for yourself. You’re not going to do anyone any good if you suffer a mental or physical breakdown while trying to help others. Its okay, not selfish, to take some personal time for yourself each day to recharge your batteries and strengthen your spirit.
- Take up meditation in order to relieve stress.
- Start a food journal to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.
- Turn up the music and dance to get your endorphins flowing and stretch your muscles.
4. Focus on small victories. What can you do to better the world in your immediate area? It may not seem like much, but your actions will inspire others, and they in turn will go on to do good things. Positivity works like a ripple effect…even the smallest kindness can lead to hundred renewed spirits.
- Put some spare change in somebody’s parking meter.
- Feed the stray cat in your neighborhood.
- Slow down and let that other car merge into your lane.
5. Donate. Whether its money, food, or other essentials, we can accomplish more good in the world when we pool the resources we have. You might think your $5 isn’t much, or that one can of soup won’t feed the world, but there’s strength and power in numbers, and everyone pitching in adds up to thousands of dollars and thousands of filled bellies.
- Send money to the Standing Rock tribe to help the water protectors make it safely through the winter.
- Contribute to the ACLU to help underprivileged people get the legal help they need.
- Start making backpacks for the homeless filled with food and other survival needs.
6. Fight for education. One of the biggest ways people are divided and taught to hate is by the fostering of ignorance. Schools are vital to bringing people together, not just because we learn about other cultures and different perspectives, but because we become empowered to go out and use the skills we learn to make a better world for everyone.
- Offer to tutor or read to kids of people you know.
- Help local kids with back-to-school needs.
- Organize study sessions to help classmates with homework and tests.
7. Be mindful with your money. Not just with how you save, but how you spend. Who is profiting off the things you use every day? Know where your money is going when you buy products, and think about the message you’re sending by patronizing places that embrace Trump’s vision for America.
- Research who the companies you buy from donate to.
- Compile a list of alternate brands to ones that are unethical.
- Investigate your local banks to see if you agree with the projects they invest in.
8. Go take a walk in nature. The more you immerse yourself in it, the more you’ll value the world around you. Taking time to experience the sun and moon, weather and sounds of animals, will also de-stress you and give your body the exercise and stamina it needs to keep fighting the good fight.
- Grab a buddy and explore the nature trails near your area.
- Bring a trash bag with you when you take walks in order to pick up junk you find.
- Plant native species that produce food for animals, insects, and birds.
9. Pray. Offer sacrifices to whatever gods you hold sacred, and ask your ancestors to hold you close. There are dark days ahead, but our ancestors and our gods went through these, too, and these will be the inspiration and the faith we need to keep moving forward.
- Collect stories from your family members about loved ones that have passed on.
- Clean your shrines and lay out fresh offerings.
- Offer thanks to your gods for what’s going right in your life.