If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. ~Dalai Lama
I’m a person of action.
I’ll bet you are too.
So when I woke up this morning at 4:52, head spinning, I knew exactly what to do. Get up, and get going.
Otherwise my brain would just continue revving in high gear, and I’d get the bed spins of stress.
Better to just get up, put a pot of coffee on, and start the day. Right?
That’s basically an analogy for the past two-ish years, isn’t it? Taking action – getting up, getting moving, doing something, putting one foot in front of the other – makes me feel so, so, so very much better. I might feel a wave of stress crash over me because of some terrifying policy, terrible action, or sadistic statement.
But then when I do something – when I take some sort of action – I can exhale.
I’ve started to call it Action Therapy.
And engaging in regular Action Therapy has been my strategy – and likely yours – for a few years now. I’ll feel the anxiety coming, the stress building, the overwhelm lapping at my toes – and then beat it back with action, because then at least I’m taking control over some aspect of things.
Even if I – even if we – can’t stop every bad thing, we can make a difference in our own corner of the world.
That’s why Small Deeds helps me, personally. It helps me focus on the things that I can do.
On the things that we, collectively, can do.
And in a time when so much feels out of grasp, it’s comforting to have your arms around something achievable. It’s a do-gooder’s to-do list, and checking things off means you’ve made someone’s life better.
And in the process, you’ve made your life better.
So this week, when you hear about the newest awful-horrible-no-good thing, and you feel yourself either worrying or shutting down, make a mental note – and do something. Consider it your “activism swear jar,” perhaps. Every time you feel that pang of anxiety, make that your cue to do something to push the world toward Good.
Pick up the phone and call a representative. Sign up to write postcards to some voters. Heck – set up a lemonade stand and give out free smiles! Because you care so deeply, you can make a huge difference. In so many lives. In so many ways.
But you have to keep getting out there to make it happen.
Let’s get out there.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of July 16
Tuesday: Postcards to Voters!
Today’s action is near and dear to my heart – my friend Kelli Dunaway is running for St. Louis County Council in a special election on August 6! Postcards to Voters is lending a hand by writing postcards to voters in the district, encouraging them to get out and vote. I hear the addresses will be distributed really quickly – so sign up fast before they’re all gone!
Wednesday: Organize a meeting with your MOC in August re: Refugees
HIAS (https://www.hias.org) has developed a Nationwide Advocacy in Support of Asylum Seekers campaign for August, encouraging people to meet with their members of Congress to advocate for refugees and asylum-seekers. After signing up at their link (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OwI5F4NbVnHokjPFrfOZc7cNopsdyPeczrrpfMzop0w/edit#gid=0) you’ll get specific information and training on how to conduct your meeting. You can even see via their spreadsheet whether a meeting is already planned with your MOC.
Thursday: some ways to help asylum seekers
There are a number of ways to help asylum seekers besides providing financial support to the great organizations that are out there doing good work. Here are a few that haven’t gotten as much attention that are worth looking into:
Volunteering: You may be surprised at the number of local volunteer opportunities available to help refugees and asylum seekers. The available opportunities are NOT all located along the border. So go to https://www.rescue.org/volunteer to see what is available near you, and how you can use your own skill set to help others.
Housing: There are other creative ways to help refugees and asylum-seekers. If you have a spare room, AirBNB, guest house, second home, apartment – whatever – you can join AirBNB’s open homes project for refugee housing. They provide support and match you up with people in need. https://www.airbnb.com/openhomes/refugee-housing
Hiring: Have your own business? Hire a refugee! Refugees are hard-working, dedicated employees who have extremely low turnover rates. Read more at Rescue.org: https://www.rescue.org/page/7-reasons-why-refugees-make-great-employees
Donating: You can also donate household items to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, which distributes them to newly-relocated refugee families. Donations are accepted at certain field offices, and there are very specific items requested, so check https://refugees.org/get-involved/donate-goods/ for more info.
Also Thursday: Tell Congress to Stop the End Run Around Asylum – and Retake Some of their power already!
The Trump administration has announced plans to end asylum for anyone who travels through another country, which is just a thinly-veiled swipe at Central Americans who are fleeing violence. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/trump-moves-to-end-asylum-for-central-american-migrants
Here’s the thing, though. Trump’s trying to take this action via administrative rule interpreting our asylum laws. That can easily be upended by Congress – if they choose to act. So we need to reach out to our congresscritters to let them know that we understand what’s happening and we want them to take action.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because the Trump administration is again trying to take Congress’s powers away by creating an administrative rule that denies asylum to anyone who travels through another country. That’s not what Congress intended with our asylum laws, but Trump is trying to get away with changing our asylum laws by executive action. That’s just plain wrong. I want to encourage Congress(wo)man ___ to speak out on this, and to introduce legislation to clarify the asylum laws’ intent. Thanks!
Friday: Play a Game and Combat Misinformation
Hat tip to Susan Rogan for pointing this out on her amazing resource, Rogan’s List!
There is a lot of misinformation and truly false news that’s spread intentionally and unintentionally via social media. Think that you know what “fake news” looks like? A group of researchers created a game to help you see what tools and tricks would-be-fakers use to make their memes go viral. The hope is that by exposing people to a mild form of the disinformation strategies often used by fake news purveyors, folks like you and I will be better able to spot unreliable information.
A study that’s been done on those who play the game shows that after playing the game people are more likely to spot misinformation. I sure learned a thing or two!
You can play the game here: https://getbadnews.com/#intro
Welcome to The Inspiration Station: Good News!
Let’s focus a bit on what happened this week that was positive, shall we?
Last month a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House that would make it easier for permanently disabled veterans to take advantage of a program that will have their student loans forgiven. Read more HERE. Three cheers!
A program started in 2014 in Ohio to plant native plants on roadsides has saved the state $2.4 million in mowing costs while providing valuable habitats for pollinators like monarch butterflies. The program is expected to save the state even more money in future years. Read more here! https://radio.wosu.org/post/monarchs-welcome-ohio-plants-roadside-habitats-bees-and-butterflies#stream/0 And hey – while you’re at it, send to your state legislator to see how your state could benefit from a similar idea!
Read about how a California farmer was inspired to create an online platform to “ignite food system crowdsourcing” – and how his vision has made a difference in California by giving farmers a place to unload excess produce. Read more here! https://cropmobster.com/how-it-works