How We Can All Heal the Country
Things those of us without a huge following can do to help
Right now we have a lot of troubles that people worry over in America. Some of us worry about fascists and neo-Nazis and our president not condemning them enough. Some of us worry about Berkeley and Antifa and the innocent people getting hurt by them. And still others find those things stupid and are really worried about Hurricane Harvey. Surprisingly to me, some of the former two aren’t worried about the latter. These groups all overlap, and there are other mutually exclusive groups in each case. Perhaps you too have wondered, “How do I get my opinion to the top to help heal the country?”
Some of us don’t have a lot of voice. We get very few re-tweets or likes or shares or upvotes on our platforms. How can we make a difference? The answer could surprise you, for too few believe it can work (topic for another day). The answer is to be nice and helpful and courteous — the opposite of what (usually) gets clicks. Nobody wants to do that. Let me prove it by example.
I was a hurricane guy (i still am) screaming that people were suffering. But something changed me when I heard the right pleas for donations. I realized that as tight as I am on money, they must have it worse. I donated. This is the first significant donation I have made. Did I make a difference? I mentioned it offhand on social media (keeping amount private, it’s not about me) thinking little of it. I did advocate for it a little bit. Now, in the days afterward, have been told in conversation that a few who follow me have also donated far more recently. I don’t take credit for their donation, but the relationship is noteworthy.
Another example: A cartoonist from Politico (who I won’t slander by link) had a recently-posted cartoon taken down. It made light with a confederate fatty being saved by FEMA helicopter calling it an angel. A bit of outrage had ensued and a screenshot of it was being passed around. Another cartoon had made the rounds at the same time — and this one I will share.
I shared both cartoons in different places, but this one I want to share more. The rescuers are diverse ethnically and the white guy has a MAGA hat. (I suspect the cartoonist wanted something opposite for the others, but settled on the racial divide as enough.) Stare at the cartoon for a minute. How does it make you feel? Not angry. Inspired maybe? It almost makes me, the emotionless engineer I am want to cry, if i look at it long enough. Makes your hair stand on end.
Whether you love or hate the hair and shoes in the White House, whether you’re black, white, rich, poor, GOP, Dem, progressive, Constitutional, feminist, alt-right — you should be able to appreciate this.
What did I learn from these incidents? If we want to heal the country, we have to get up and do something. We have to advocate for good things. Bad things get clicks, outrage can go viral—but it’s all talk. Only good things get a real, tangible response.
If you want to get heard and make a difference, you don’t need more likes and shares and re tweets. You need to be inspiring. This is incredibly hard to do on purpose. You have to speak like a megachurch pastor, or a cult-followed politician. You don’t need 1000 shares of your post where 1 person did something. You need 10 shares of a donation request where 25% did.
<plug> I won’t end with a call to action — because we’re jaded to those, but if you want to donate to the Hurricane relief I’ll let you choose where. Different sides like different groups. It’s what i did. If you do, show it and ask others to. </plug>
Actions speak louder than words — even words saying you did the action speak louder. That’s my message. Us little people can really help the nation. You just have to choose to speak the kind things, the inspiring and forgiving things, give adversaries the benefit of the doubt, and then when the time comes, do something and ask people to follow you in it. They will — after all, I donated and then followed the cartoonist. It worked on me.