I was behind a car at a stoplight on my way home from the gym today, a car that was literally plastered from top to bottom with bumper stickers. Each bumper sticker had on it a plea for more thought into an issue: unemployment, war, hunger, farming, creativity, and well, clearly as they were Vermonters, there was a few showing pride in that fact. I read them all as I sat there, The Animals serenading me from my speakers, and then the light turned green and the portable billboard of awareness went a separate way to inform some other fellow road passenger of issues in a passive aggressive manner.
I’m not sure when saving the world became in actuality alerting the world to one’s own opinion and letting the world know that the world needed saving in general. Probably with the rise of Facebook, or maybe it’s been this way forever, but because I haven’t been, I do not know that. What I’m saying is that for some reason, people think simply preaching their opinion is going to change something.
Oh, sure, it may make somebody aware of an issue. Great. However, simply raising awareness is not enough to actually change anything. There has to be action mixed in the equation somewhere. There has to be.
Every day on Facebook, my newsfeed is littered with pictures of mutilated dogs, beat to shit children, and military soldiers with burns and bullet wounds interrupting their otherwise handsome faces. These pictures plea for me to ‘like’ them in order to a) prove that I am, in fact, against these things or b) to offer prayers in the hopes of them being saved from this atrocity that is occurring outside of our ginger bread house lives.
I have never heard a doctor say “share your sick son’s picture and if it doesn’t get at least 1,000 ‘likes’ … he dies” or a dog owner say “well, I guess I have to stop mistreating my dogs because that picture of Fluffy all malnutritioned and missing an eye got 10 million ‘likes’”
Then you have the preachers, the ones who just won’t shut up about their issue, but that’s it. That’s where it ends. They tell you or whoever that disagrees, you are all wrong. The political ranter who thinks it’s your different opinion that is dooming the whole country. The vegan who has so much compassion for animals, yet can’t extend a bit to the guy eating bacon, who could be pretty wonderful. The mother who shares every single photo against child abuse, and yet spends their days uh, sharing photos rather than mothering. Et cetera. Et cetera.
When one is expressing their opinion, it is important to remember, that it is just that: an opinion. By shouting and screaming your viewpoint, you are only asserting what you believe, not changing anything. I have never heard a single person say “thank you for making it obvious that my opinion is below yours, my view is changed entirely.”
We have a whole country of people sharing and ‘liking’ photos, proclaiming what they believe, and covering their cars in bumper stickers, and yet, no one is doing anything. Awareness is being raised all over, but action is left to the few.
I once had a teacher named Janice. This is the teacher that helped me transition into not eating meat, the teacher that helped me realize that I was in fact, a really passionate person, and the teacher that changed my viewpoint on community service in general. Needless to say, she taught me a lot about life and not just the subject matter in which was part of the curriculum.
And the biggest lesson I pulled from that class? Community service is not just volunteering at your local church or spending time picking up trash on the side of the road because the court ordered you to. Volunteer work could be helping a friend move or watching a friend’s child so that she can work an extra shift or helping an elderly person carry their bags out of the grocery store. Doing something to improve the community can come up in the spur of the moment and it can be something that takes 15 seconds to do.
In a way, this blog is just as trite as someone sharing a photo on the good, ol’ FB. Mainly because, this is an attempt to raise awareness to the fact that you cannot change the world by sitting at your computer and ‘liking’ status after status about change. You can not change the world by simply raising awareness. As cliche as it sounds, you have to actually be the change.
But, the good news is, it really wouldn’t take as much effort as you think to help.
Save the world one good action at a time, not one bumper sticker at a time.