Are you enraged by some injustice? Have you or friends/family been touched by an issue or illness? Have you recently become aware of an issue in your community, country or internationally? Has someone approached you to help with a project or issue? Did a news story shake you into action. Are you passionate about an issue?
There is a three link chain that should help you to find action that is immediate, relevant, and concrete. The links are connected like a chain where each one is important and dependent on two more links. The process isn’t linear but rather circular. When you complete the three links you are only temporarily finished because link three connects back to link one.
Link one : Raise your awareness of the issue. A little bit of time invested in researching what the issue really is ( 5,000 people are homeless), what the background situation is (2000 are suffering from mental health issues, 2000 are experiencing substance abuse, 1000 are catastrophically homeless because of job loss or illness), what is being done by individuals and organizations ( is the existing action helping), and can you join, cooperate or collaborate with existing action.
Link two: Gain respect and understanding for the impacted individuals, families or groups. Without link two, your well meaning actions will come from your perspective on the issue and be harmful, detrimental or not well received. Using the fictional example( the issue is real the numbers are fictional) from Link one, 5000 homeless – you may have personal values that suggest that the homeless just need to get a job and work harder. If you haven’t done background research you wouldn’t realize that 75% of the catastrophically homeless are already working fulltime and more than 25% of ill and addicted are holding down jobs. This is really the most difficult link because we all bring our past experiences and biases with us. Letting go of strongly held beliefs and being open to new possibilities can be challenging and requires us to be focused on what is best for others. Don’t panic, it may be difficult but this is a skill that we use everyday in relationships with families, co-workers, and friends (sometimes more successfully than others).
Link three: Take action. After raising awareness of the issue and gaining understanding and respect for the impacted individuals you are ready to find an action that is immediate, relevant and concrete. Remember to take a manageble bite of the issue. You likely can’t personally help all 5000 homeless people or even join the efforts of others to find a solution to the big problem. But, maybe you can look for action that would benefit the 1000 that are homeless because of family crisis or job loss. Maybe you can join a campaign to bring about a living wage and/or affordable housing.
After taking action and allowing the ripples to bounce around for a while, you can see what changes have occured. Did the action make a difference? Does it need to be modified a bit? Is there a better solution? Our best efforts and experiences to reduce or eliminate homelessness have left us with a growing problem. This is an unimaginable problem to have in wealthy countries like Canada, United States or Great Britain and will require as yet unimagined solutions. Keep imagining!