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You’re the One Who Can Make the World a Better Place!

You can personally help the world! You can personally help the world!

You hear a lot of talk and worry about the environment, wars, the economy, this, that and the other…and most of us think we know the reasons for all the messes, or have the solutions for how to make the world a better place.

Some folks blame Obama, or they blame the Republicans, or the conservatives or the liberals.

Others blame nature, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Iran, police, the military, oil companies, bankers, corporations, hippies, religion, television…or too much salt and fat in our food.

You’ll notice the many gurus running around providing “answers” to the world’s questions, or “solutions” to the problems.

But after those answers and solutions have been tried, or after the guru has been found to be a hypocrite, egofreak, poseur or greedhead, people go wildly searching for the next guru. Who will we look to for guidance? Oprah? Obama? Bono? Letterman?

Many people just give up on the world, living their lives in quiet desperation, comfortably numb, hunkered down, hoping to get through their lives, retire on a fixed pension, and fade into the twilight without too much pain.

I used to join organizations, write letters, work to elect political candidates, argue politics, contribute money, buy books written by gurus, pray, carry signs during protests, and network with others who claimed they were dedicated to change.

A little bit of good came out of those activities. I met nice people. Sometimes we temporarily stopped some injustice. Made myself feel better. Got an adrenalin rush.

In noticed that my activities centered on trying to change systems, corporations, government and other people. And that my efforts were ineffectual.

Then I realized that what would work best for me and the world could be summed up in bumper sticker clichés, such as:

Change Begins With Me

Be the Change You Want to See

Think Globally, Act Locally

Change Yourself & You Change the World

Putting those principles into action gave me the following experiences…

My fellow Rosebudmag.com writer Gabriella Ferrari and I noticed how our neighborhoods were dominated by petroleum machine death addicts. Leaf blowers, lawnmowers, weed whackers everywhere. Deafening sound. Belching smoke. The obsessive cutting of lawns two or three times a week. Spraying poisons on lawns, plants and almost everything else- on windy days, so I had to close my windows or else I’d breathe in the noise and death that my dear neighbors were spewing forth.

I tried talking to my neighbors, giving them pamphlets about pollution, pesticides and noise, practically begging them to at least not do their machining and poisoning when I was trying to eat dinner with my windows open.

But they just laughed at me, called me a “tree-hugger,” and kept on with their noisy, disruptive activities. And then I realized that the love of money dominates most everyone…so I offered to pay my neighbors NOT to mow their lawns, NOT to spray poisons.

It costs me about $350 this summer to bribe them. Their lawns look fine if not better. Butterflies and birds have returned to our formerly noisy, poisoned, devoid of wildlife burb.

The math is on my side. I used to give more than $350 per year to environmental organizations. And then I watched them compromise and bow down to oil companies and noticed that my contributions didn’t produce any actual changes where I live. My direct bribes to my neighbors amounted to a net monetary gain, and I actually saw some real change happen. Heck, I made the change happen. Yay for me. Yay for birds and bees!

Next up is the issue of poverty and hunger. You’ve probably noticed that lots of organizations including churches make a big profit helping hungry people. Most of the money they get from people and governments go to the administrators of those programs, not to providing food for hungry people.

I was walking to my local health food store when a guy wearing a backpack with a pleading, almost insane look on his face accosted me to ask for money so he could buy some “food” at the Jack in the Box junk food place across the street.

I told him straight up that I don’t ever hand out money to strangers, because I have been conned too many times. But I did tell him that if he waited outside the store I would buy him some healthy food. I got him a sandwich, protein shake, and two all-organic chocolate bars. I also got him a pound of trail mix. It cost me about $24. The guy was slumped against a light pole when I came out of the store. I gave him the food and his face lit up like a Christmas tree. It was worth the $24.

My final example is from the time I was riding my bike on a “bike trail” and saw two girls, they couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 years old, sitting smack dab in the middle of the trail ahead of me.

I was blazing along at 23 mph; pedestrians are totally banned from the trail…there are signs every 100 feet saying so.

The little girls saw me coming, but  didn’t make any attempt to move. As I got closer I saw why: they were drinking cans of beer and smoking cigarettes.

I also noticed they were dressed like mini-hookers. Actually, they were dressed more risqué than hookers. Their shorts were more like panties, and their shirts were more like see-through. They had on more make-up than a painted street walker.

I stopped my bike right in front of them and asked if the beer tasted good (“No!”) and if they knew it as a bikes-only trail. One girl stared sullenly at the ground. The other asked if I was a child molester. Without waiting for me to answer, she said I should go with her and her friend so I could buy them some beer and cigarettes. She winked at me when she said this. Yikes!

I suggested to them that they don’t have to worry about child molesters as much as they had to worry about the way they were harming themselves with booze and cigarettes, and dressing like slutpuppies, sitting in the middle of a bicycle trail. What happened next surprised me- the girls dumped out their beer, threw their cans into the bushes, said thank you, and walked away into an adjoining neighborhood.

Optimistically, perhaps, I hope that I set them on a glimmer of a path of self-respect, or at least self-reflection. Who knows? One thing for sure…that day in that place and time they stopped drinking their beers, and they didn’t get a cigarette from me. That was a measurably good outcome, as far as I’m concerned.

If a child can do it, so can you…

So what’s my point? Here it is: when you want to make the world a better place do it yourself. Spend your money to personally stop people next door from polluting and poisoning. Intervene and politely ask people to do better for themselves and the world. Have a heart. Have some courage. Don’t expect activists, leaders, politicos, and organizations to do it for you. Because they can’t do what you personally can do.

Funny thing is, this kind of personal activism is also a health-enhancing tool. No matter how tired, down or worried I feel, if I do something good, I feel good. Sounds like common sense, of course, but you’d be surprised how many people never do any personal acts of charity or kindness except maybe for members of their own family or circle of friends. When they feel bad, they turn to anti-depressants. They don’t see the connection between helping the world and lifting their mood. I’m glad I experience the joy of helping. It’s a rush.

In my experience, when you do something directly for someone or something you believe in, it lifts you up and benefits the world a lot faster and better than voting, relying on gurus, or joining some faraway charitable organization that spends most of your money on administrative costs.

Just do the good yourself, my friend. Then you’ll know for sure something good has been done!

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Last modified on Tuesday, 09 November 2010 19:08

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