If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that God has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair. ~Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
I read a (true) story just the other day that begins with a little old lady in a college town bookstore.
She was quirky in that lovable, older-lady sort of way. “Kooky,” is how the checkout clerk described her.
She was making small talk with the clerk about how she absolutely loved the bookstore but couldn’t stay longer because her husband doesn’t like bookstores so much and was waiting in the car… “And oh! I should buy him chocolate!” she exclaimed, adding a few bars to her order.
As she was commenting on the clerk’s hair (she liked her bangs and thought they looked like the ocean) a young man hurried into line behind her.
The older woman took notice.
He was a student at the nearby college, purchasing books for the semester. He had a hefty load – about $400 worth.
The older woman turned to him and promptly demanded that he put the books on the counter.
Then she said that she was going to buy the books for him.
He hesitated, and then refused, saying something along the lines of Thank you but no, these are too expensive, it’s just too much…
So she grabbed them out of his hands and put them on the counter herself.
Then she spoke to the clerk. “Add them to my order.”
The clerk also hesitated. This was, after all, $400 in books.
“Do it.” the older woman said, and then looked at the young man, who at this point was white as a sheet and close to tears. “And you look like you need chocolate.” She grabbed handfuls of chocolate bars and added them to this growing pile of generosity.
The clerk checked her out as the young man and the clerk heaped praise on her, telling her what an amazing thing she’d done for him. The young man hugged her.
Then she turned to both of them, and said:
“It’s important to be kind. You can’t know all the times that you’ve hurt people in tiny, significant ways. It’s easy to be cruel without meaning to be. There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can choose to be kind. Be kind.“
The young man walked out of the store with his textbooks, leaving the kooky old lady with the clerk whose bangs she admired.
And then the old woman stared out the window after the young man and said:
“My son is a homeless meth addict. I don’t know what I did. I see that boy and I see the man my son could have been if someone had chosen to be kind to him … at just the right time.“
My god, every time I read those words my eyes tear up and my stomach drops.
We never know who we reach, who we impact, who we touch with our words and our actions.
And we certainly aren’t perfect.
But with every day we’re given, we can choose to try to make the world brighter, lighter, better.
We can choose to be kind.
So this week, consider adding an “extra” action. Do one thing – just to be nice. Do one thing to brighten someone else’s day, just for the sake of it.
Do one little thing to remind yourself that even in the darkest times, we can still be the light for one another.
It matters, and you matter.
You never know who you’ll touch.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of October 1
Tuesday: a human algorithm release!
Flynn Coleman’s A Human Algorithm is released today! It’s a “groundbreaking narrative on the urgency of ethically designed AI and a guidebook to reimagining life in the era of intelligent technology.”
Check it out at her website here: https://flynncoleman.community/my-book
If you’re not familiar with Flynn, she’s an author, an international human rights attorney, a professor, a public speaker, a social innovator, a social justice activist, a former competitive athlete, an ethical fashion designer, and a founder and CEO. Basically, she’s an all-around amazing person who you should follow: (https://flynncoleman.community/about).
She let me know a few weeks back that her book was being released today, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting it ever since. So I wanted to share the good news with you all. Go check it out!! (P.S. I don’t get referral income for sharing – just letting you all know about a great book written by a great person. That’s compensation enough!)
also tuesday: Go to the Doctor – To Register to Vote?
In 2014, researchers conducted a voter registration project at a Community Health Center in the Bronx. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4157984/
It was pretty simple, really. Patients were approached by non-partisan volunteers in the waiting room, and asked to register to vote.
Over 1/3 of the people they talked to weren’t yet registered to vote – and 89% of them registered to vote through the project.
Eighty. Nine. Percent!! (Wow!)
And 65% of the newly registered were under 40 years old.
So why am I telling you all of this?
Because we need to be out there getting folks registered to vote. Community Health Centers are non-partisan places that serve people who understand the need for healthcare. And as you know, Community Health Centers have had a lot of funding cut, and the folks that use them have seen the impact firsthand.
So if you have a local activist group (or if you’re active in the League of Women Voters in your area), pick up the horn and call them this week. Talk about this study. Think about how you can implement something like this in your community. Connect with administrators at the Community Health Centers, and see if they would be willing to allow non-partisan voter registration volunteers to sit in their waiting room and register voters.
It’s a simple way to help increase participation in our democracy. Try it!
Wednesday: Talk to State Legislators About the Birds and the Bees
We spend a lot of time talking about the terrible awful being done by the Trump Administration’s EPA. And, frankly, we’re justified in that because it IS all terrible awful.
But there are many ways to protect our natural environment, and moving to state legislatures is one way to do that.
The National Conference on State Legislatures published a report on state laws protecting or promoting pollinator health. Twenty-two states have laws that promote research, protect habitat, encourage education, restrict pesticides or relate to beekeeping in particular. (States that have such laws are highlighted below in purple.)
In our activist work, many of us have created better relationships with our state legislators. (And maybe some of you ARE state legislators! Hi! *Wave*) There’s a greater understanding now about the role of our pollinators in a struggling farming economy, and in our fragile environment. In fact, from a political standpoint, it’s a great time for state legislators to introduce legislation that benefits pollinators!
So check out this very short (2 page) report, see if your state is one of the states with laws already on the books, and share it with your state legislator. http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/pollinator-health.aspx
Ask what they are doing to protect pollinators (who contribute $24 billion to the US economy) and then follow up by giving them these specific examples of what other states have done so they can use that legislation as an example.
Thursday: Have a “Peachy” Day!
This is a political action list, after all, and no list this week would be complete without some discussion of impeachment.
There’s a smorgasbord of impeachable offenses, really. Just pick your flavor.
But please do call your Representative this week and let him or her know that you support holding this administration accountable and you are in favor of the inquiry.
But please go slightly further, ok? Because the Attorney General and the Secretary of State have also now been implicated in a coordinated effort (I’m trying not to say conspiracy) to pressure Ukraine into helping Trump politically. The Director of OMB (and Trump’s current chief of staff) is also implicated.
The impeachment inquiry needs to be broadened, and should include at least the AG, Secretary of State, and Director of OMB. They serve the people, and we need to know if they subverted Congress.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m calling from [zip code]. From what I’ve seen and heard, I’m glad an impeachment inquiry has been opened and look forward to seeing it proceed. But I would also like to ask that Congress[wo]man ____ encourage the inquiry to be broadened. In reporting this week, the Attorney General, Secretary of State and the Director of the OMB have been implicated. That’s really concerning – and it should be investigated. Thanks.
Friday: Join an Impeach Now Event
Right now we’re in congressional recess, when our Reps are in their home districts meeting with constituents. (In theory, at least.)
That means having local events – and getting a little press coverage for those events if you can – can be super effective in getting their attention.
A new website, Impeach Now, has a nice compilation of events across the country. If you’re leading an event, please register it at the site so that others can find you! And if you’re looking to make some noise about impeachment (which I strongly encourage) it’s a great place to find your people.
Head over to www.impeachnow.org for more info.
WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.