You ask what can be done?
We want to stop attrocities and suffering now! But before rushing into any actions let me know what you think about the following paragraphs.
Lasting change always starts within– What I think of myself and what I think of others – especially others I don't know and others I would rather avoid. What do I want to change? And what can I do to change THAT? These are questions I ask myself and then check out my answers with one or two trusted friends.
STORY & SERVICE
Answering and responding to these quesitons is a process and the best process I know is wrapped up in the power of STORIE and SERVICE. Stories open and deepen our understanding of a person and/or a place while potentially creating empathy – a heart connection. Service then makes it real – it sets us firmly on the road to the change we want.
Choose a local challenge – maybe it's a person:) maybe it's an issue.
At the same time choose a global challenge – genocide, human trafficing, the plight of women in the congo, poverty in Rwanda, child soldering, and so many more!
There is a definite advantage to having a foot in local challenges and a foot in global challenges in terms of each helping us more effectively addressing the other. (more on this later)
The NEXT Step is informing ourselves through books, articles, websites, documentaries, films, first hand accounts (super important!! – people who are already involved in the work and/or from the place/issue we have chosen.) This is the STORY STAGE. And I don't want to limit my reading/movies information gathering to simply current issues – There is so much to learn from past issues and conflicts – Civil Rights movement – Middle east conflicts – past wars.
For the STORY STAGE to bring positive change it's got to lead us into the SERVICE STAGE. Stories without service leads to callous indifference and apathy.
SERVICE that brings effective and sustainable change absolutely must have it's roots in the thoughts, plans, and experiences (stories) of the people most directly affected. Practicing listening skills is not only key to the STORY STAGE but also essential in the SERVICE STAGE. Passion, enthusiasm and even anger must never get in the way of listening! Again, listening to the people most directly affected.
Problems rarely develop overnight and solutions along with meaningful actions take time, they take patience. But don't confuse patience with avoidance or heartlessness. Every minute counts, we don't want to squander time. That's why the SERVICE STAGE can begin right along with the STORY STAGE. In fact SERVICE often advances and deepens the understanding of STORIES.
– We dial 1-800- GENOCIDE (service) and talk with the legaslative assistant (LA) for forieng affairs (story) in our representatives office about the eastern Congo or whatever issue we've chosen. Start building a relaitonship with the LA (story and service)
– We get acquainted with a refugee (story) while helping them sort through their mail (service) and throw out the “million dollar jackpot” junk mail offers.
– We start making regular visits to the retiement home (service) and gently ask about first hand accounts of forien service (story).
– We put a link on our facebook page (service) of the films or books (story) we've found interesting
– We plan a meal with ___________ (service) and learn about their hopes and dreams (story)
– We join an activist group (service) and actively listen to the passions of older members (story)