First Person Blog

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In a world that feels so broken, is it crazy to still have hope?

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Kofi Bosque Hamilton joins others from Oxfam America at a rally outside the Boston State House in support of Syrian refugees. Photo: Coco McCabe / Oxfam America

It’s been a tough few weeks. I’m trying to remember when the storm clouds started gathering.

When people at work started to look tired, like they hadn’t slept, or would rather go back to bed. Was it Orlando? Jo Cox’s murder?  Brexit? Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia? Any one of the police shootings that killed young, black men so often that reporters could barely keep up with their obits?

Somewhere along the way, I started keeping my iPhone near my bed at night. It’s a bad habit and not something I normally do. But I’m a news junkie and I was staying up late watching sit-ins on the Congressional floor, reading details about body counts, and bickering politicos here and abroad.

So maybe that’s why I’m tired. Or maybe it’s because it’s easy to feel like the world is broken right now. And the people who are charged with fixing it are using it for their own political gain.

As one friend characterized it, it feels like we’re circling the drain. When that feeling becomes an everyday thing, it starts to feel disempowering. You start to expect the bad things. And feel less and less able to do anything about them.

But historically, we’ve also seen that the moments that almost break us can also be the ones that become a catalyst. Each of us steps out of our safe cocoons where our wealth and privilege and distance can blind us. Instead, we use our money, time, influence, and social network to do something.

This is one of those moments. This is a moment where thinking people, caring people, can do something.  It may not feel like a lot to make a donation, attend a vigil, or join a membership group, or share a post on social media. The world’s problems are so gnarly, you may feel like one tiny pebble in a beach full of sand. No one will notice your contribution. No one will care.

But movements start small. And then your friends and family pile on. And then your neighbors. Then it’s your university or co-workers. And then, suddenly, you realize there’s a whole community of people who also want to do something too. That’s how change happens. One person decides enough is enough.

You might decide these aren’t your issues. But let’s talk about just what’s at stake right now. Economic inequality. Systemic racism and civil rights. Gun violence. Hate crimes. Terrorism. Isolationism. Xenophobia.

Do you see yourself in any of those causes? I bet you do. If so, now’s the time to do something. Join a cause. Follow a group. Push your views out on your social media. Call your member of Congress. Vote.

Because you are not powerless. Your actions have weight and they will help fix what’s broken. And I’d bet, it will feel a whole lot better to join others who want to do something too.

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  1. jabuynak@yahoo.com'Jim Buynak

    I’ve been out of the need biz for more than a decade, but, like you my friend, I remain a news junkie. But unlike you, I do not believe we are “circling the drain.” Yes, there have been better periods in the short history of mankind, but there also have been much worse. And I remain very optimistic that progress marches forward.

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