Thursday, December 3, 2015

How to Help When Feeling Helpless

I don't know if it's because I run it's the little things, but a lot of friends reach out to me after they see the news. We witness these terrible acts of terrorism and wonder if there's anything we can do other than feeling so sad, mad, or helpless ...especially when it's a little too close to home.

"What can we do?" 

"Joan, what are we going to do??" 

"Wtf are we doing about (recent tragedy)?"

(all text messages or emails I've actually received)

The purpose of this lovely little website is to offer you suggestions on how to make a difference in small yet meaningful ways. This post is a bit different than the rest and uncharacteristically geographically specific to the United States. Despite having many (passionate) feelings on the matter, my job here is not to preach. This DIY assignment may not be as creative as other ITLT projects, but there is definitely an opportunity to get creative.

The one thing you have that nobody else does is
your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.
Be heard as only you can.

Whether you own a gun or not, vote red or blue (or other), I think we can all agree that these "mass shootings" in the U.S. are out of control. I'm sure you've already seen a fair amount of articles, read letters from grieving parents, and watched news story after news story. I am not here to convince you of anything; I am simply telling you that if you take any of these suggestions below, your actions will make a difference. The difference may be small, but if we work together, we can demand a positive change sooner.

I struggle with feeling helpless when we are confronted with acts of terrorism, internationally or domestic. It's 2015 and enough is enough. It's time to demand a plan to end gun violence. Without inundating you with too many infographics, here are the facts.

Countries with more gun have more homicides. 

And we've all seen the maps, right?

Here are 16 things that YOU can actually DO now to make a difference:

1. Get in touch with your federal representative:
  • Find there contact info HERE
  • Email your rep. Here's your opportunity to get creative. Speak from the heart. Demand change. Many of my friends have composed beautiful facebook statuses with their thoughts on the matter; they could copy, paste, and send those thoughts to their representative. It doesn't have to be long, it's doesn't have to be eloquent, but this is your opportunity to be heard. 
  • Tweet your rep. This sounded silly to me at first too, but this is a pubic forum in which public figures often respond to in a timely (and less generic) manner. For example: "Dear @POTUS enough gun violence in America ! We need Universal Background Checks now ! #GunSense"
  • Find your representative on facebook and send them a message. For example: Dear Representative, I am your constituent and I vote. I am horrified about the gun violence epidemic in America and want action now. Specifically I want to see legislation supporting Universal Background Checks on all gun sales.
2. Get in touch with your state and local representatives and demand change from them too. Email, tweet, and facebook them. Use this website to help.

3. Donate blood to your local hospital, clinic, or blood bank.

4. Perform these generous acts of kindness:
  • Hold a public vigil for gun violence victims. The night of the most recent Paris shootings, I searched Portland to find a vigil that I could attend. Heartfelt and public displays of grief for the victims and their families are important. You can bring attention to an important cause by volunteering to organize or simply attending a public vigil.
  • Send flowers. Google a small-business florist near the site of any recent tragedy. Call and explain that you’d like to pay for flowers to be sent to, say, the staff of the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs (3480 Centennial Boulevard, Colorado Springs, CO 80907), or to Hope Church (5740 Academy Blvd N, Colorado Springs, CO 80918), where slain police officer Garrett Swasey and his family were members. When you leave a note, don’t make it about you, or your political or religious beliefs. Leave it anonymous, or simply say, “From a stranger who thought you might be sad today.”
  • Donate donuts. There are several Dunkin’ Donuts within the general area of Sullivan House High School, the alternative school in Chicago’s South Side where Laquan MacDonald was enrolled. It’s probably a tough week for teachers and students both. Buy an e-gift card. Send the link to the faculty. Tell them a stranger bought them coffee.
  • Check out more awesome things do when the world is a scary place on this snazzy blog.
5. Write a "letter to the editor" at your local paper, and then send it.

6. Join these campaigns or sign these petitions:
  • Sign the “NoCheck, NoSale” policy. There is a loophole in the 1993 Brady Bill has allowed more than 15,000 gun sales — in the last five years alone — to dangerous people because a background check could not be completed within the three-day period required by the law. Find it HERE.
  • Sign the petition for safe gun storage. At least 1.5 million children in the U.S. are living in homes with unlocked and loaded guns, yet only 28 states have child access prevention laws. Sign HERE to ask for action on this issue.
  • Join the campaign to keep guns off campus. For the life of me, I can’t understand why so many schools are targets for senseless shootings, but this organization is working to keep schools a safe space to learn. Sign it HERE.
  • Join a campaign to ban the civilian carry of guns in stores. For example, Moms Demand Action is working on getting Kroger to stop allowing guns in their stores.  Campaign page HERE.
7. Call on your inspirations to demand change... or else!

Got more thoughts on how to make a difference?

Let us know and we'll add to the list!