The Revolution of One, Step 1: Identify What is Important to You

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What does it take to make a difference? When I was younger, I believed that I had to be in charge of people or organizations or be wealthy to make a difference in the world. Most of us won’t make a mark that way.

This series of posts is for those of us who aren’t in charge of anyone but ourselves, aren’t wealthy, aren’t even the sharpest minds of our generation. We’re nobodies but the masses, consumers, residents, audiences, crowds, fans, likes, the polled, the Nielsen ratings. We’re the nameless, faceless focus groups. And we all have the potential to be heroes.

Life is very busy these days – I don’t have time to lead a movement, but I’m not comfortable just focusing on my little world. There is a larger picture for all of us and we delude ourselves with thinking that we are somehow safe from the ills of the world if we stay in our shells, our homes and our routines. If the events of the last years have shown us anything, it is that security is a prison unto itself and clearly an illusion.

I am angry. I am angry about pointless death when there are so many other struggles we deal with as human beings. I am angry that I am afraid – afraid of what will happen to my family, to myself, to my home, to our future. Fear erodes compassion and kindness and produces nothing.

We have been made to feel small and powerless and useless by deranged individuals, corporations and politics. I believe in levelheadedness and that sentiment must lead to action. Like myself, many people are so overwhelmed by causes and outrage and pundits, that most of us don’t know where to start.

It starts here, my friends. With me. With you. It starts now.

It’s time for a plan. I’ve been content to shove money in random pails and jars, volunteer sporadically, send off occasional missives to my political representatives and voice my outrage in conversation. It’s not enough. It’s not a difference I can feel in my gut. Like any goal, I must set measurable, doable action items. I can’t solve the world’s problems, but I can be part of the palliative, the counterweight against evil, part of the light that battles the dark. I can be an everyday superhero.

STEP 1. Knowing that I can’t fix everything, I need to define the causes that mean the most to me.

Children – How we treat, feed and educate them.

Elderly People – How we treat, feed and care for them.

Victims of Crime – How we treat, heal and protect them.

Animals – How we respect their habitats, how we eat them as part of our diets and how we treat them in our homes.

Planet – How we develop sustainable living: water, foliage, air, food growth.

Take a Moment.

What are the causes that mean the most to you?

Tune in tomorrow, for Revolution of One, Step 2: Identifying Your Strengths

29 Comments on “The Revolution of One, Step 1: Identify What is Important to You

  1. So much of time is invested in what I do volunteer-wise I don’t really think much about it anymore. It’s what keeps me going really and I definitely get back as far as my own self-respect goes, and I always say, I don’t think of it as noble at all I think of it as wonderfully humbling and appreciate the opportunity. 🙂

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    • My efforts are so sporadic that it’s not particularly efficient and doesn’t always support the causes close to my heart. I just decided to go into the new year with a plan.

      We plan for everything else, so I figured I might try this as well. I think, too, when it comes to current world busy-ness, many of us don’t take the deliberate time to think through our efforts. I don’t know, this is just my response to my anger about the events of the last weeks – plan and take action.

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      • Yes I’m thinking quite deliberately today actually being it’s a winter storm and I’m looking forward to moving into January and the new year already. 🙂 So I feel ya. I’m actually trying to pick the SIX BEST THINGS I wrote in 2012. What a silly thing to get my head all twisted up in! hahah I’m sure to a greater creative purpose no doubt (it’s impossible!)

        I’m sure thinking deliberately in that space will do you a lot of good. It has me.

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  2. Bravo! Look forward to the rest. My list is remarkably similar to yours. And I support them in various ways, not just with money. I also do volunteer in a hospital once a week, which I love; and which is immensely gratifying.

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    • I go in fits and spurts and sometimes I feel like I’m throwing money at things when I don’t have the time. I just want to be more thoughtful and consistent. I do volunteer work, but I know I’m capable of more – have just been too busy to plan it out!

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  3. The most important thing to me is to get us to notice that we are a single body of life, and that competing with each other is like starving our heart to fatten our kidneys which harms the whole body. When we see from that perspective we make it our business to want nourishment for everyone, not just a narrow few or our self. I think it is also important to recognize that this behavior cannot come through compliance to an authority (government), it most come from commitment. (Personal values) Thanks for asking and thanks for wanting to translate that into something real!

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    • I think that’s key – not waiting about for governments or corporations to decide our values based on polling, just because we don’t know what to do. You are absolutely right about being part of a whole. That sentiment brings to mind the John Donne quote:
      “All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  4. I have had an experience recently that makes this action very needed. I will join you in your journey and will be checking in frequently. Good for you to be taking on such a worthwhile endeavor!

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  5. Old people, children, victims, animals and the planet… so who are you leaving out, exactly? 😀

    Being decidedly anti-social, I don’t volunteer my time, which makes me feel guilty, since there is a lot I could do. To assuage that guilt I tithe (off my gross) and then some (usually around 13%). I’m very selective about who I give to; my charities definitely reflect my own sense of “causes” (I don’t generally think in “cause” terms … it’s that label thing again, and you know how I am about labels).

    USO (always) and other veteran organizations, because I feel strongly about the men and women who serve and whom we put in harm’s way. I often give to police charities for similar reasons: vitally important people whose jobs put their lives at risk. I’ve realized (thanks to Denis Leary, actually) that I’ve been missing an important one: Firefighters. Gonna correct that.

    Habitat for Humanity, because I feel strongly about providing shelter (one of Maslow’s top three) for those who need it. What kind of society has homeless people? Certainly not a great one. For similar reasons I give to a local outfit, Union Gospel Mission, that provides food and shelter to the homeless.

    And then, for whatever it’s worth, I try to share my knowledge as freely as possible, and I try to be a cheerleader for knowledge and education, because I believe those are things that can be very successful at making change happen. I often think they may be among the only things.

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    • This is why I need to be specific and decide on those things that I can do. I’m leaving out all the healthy, clothed and sheltered people from 18-75 (it’s the new 65, right?), since they can help out with the others. You list some good causes. I’m not necessarily at my best for volunteering, either, but getting nickeled and dimed for donations everywhere I go makes it feel like I’m donating more than I actually am, so one of the things I want to change is how I donate.

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      • I know what you mean; I found structuring my donations very helpful. It’s a trite old saying, “I gave at the office,” but it’s certainly true in my case. Work takes 5% off the top for United Way, I manage the other 5+%. (Although I’m PO’d at work and will manage all my donations from now on.)

        On the one hand it makes me feel okay saying no to the nickle and dime stuff, but it never quite makes you feel entirely secure saying it. (“Oh, right… ‘gave at the office’ … Ya big fat Scrooge!”) This year I’ve decided to be bold. I walked right past those grocery store Santas, looked’m in the eye and smiled as I walked past. I think they actually appreciated the eye contact; most people try to sneak by them.

        (I did find a ten-dollar bill in the parking lot this weekend. At first I thought, “Score!” Then I thought, “Meh. Ten bucks.” So I walked back and gave it to the Santa.)

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  6. I’m not big on movements, but I can do little things that are important to me. I wish it could be more.

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    • I’m not fond of volunteering with bureaucratically run charities or organizations – I’ll be writing more on that tomorrow. I know I can do more, but I think one of the reasons I don’t is that I’m not taking charge of my actions or money or seeing the possibilities for myself.

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  7. Pingback: The Revolution of One, Step 2: Identifying Your Strengths | The Green Study

  8. Your causes are very similar to mine. This is a very thought-provoking (and hopefully action-provoking) post.

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    • Thanks! My thinking here is that I meet and set goals for so many other areas in life (fitness, parenting, etc.), why haven’t I done the same with my contributions to the larger community? I’m dragging readers through my process, in the hopes of turning intent into action.

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  9. A very insightful, touching post…makes me reflect on what I believe in and ehat I am doing about them. Children and elderly…they’re very close to my heart. I have aleays thought that raising our kids well to be productive and kind hearted citizens of the world (hard to do by the way!) is one of the greatest contributions we can give to life. But i know it is not enough.

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    • I definitely believe that if you have kids, it is very important to raise them well. But as my daughter grows up in an age of vision narrowed by electronic devices and punditry, I need to show her how to reach out beyond our little world and why serving the community is important.

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  10. Pingback: The Revolution of One, Step 3: What to Do? What to Do? | The Green Study

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