How to Make the World a Better Place – Media

Just yesterday I was thinking seriously on how I could possibly make a difference.  I hear these news broadcasts (I listen to OPB/NPR/BBC quite a bit, but also CNN/FOX/MSNBC and local news on the radio and TV) and I have started to get this helpless feeling.  There is so much out there that needs to be fixed and I am only one person.  What is it that I could possibly do to have any impact on what is ailing our planet or our neighbors today?

I started to think that if, after a broadcast, I was given three things I could do TODAY to make a difference, I might feel better.  I would be able to see there are some options. Maybe I could do something to make a difference.  What I’m thinking of is not just suggesting what charity I could give money to, but that would also help, but what can I DO today that could make a difference.  Sometimes the reporter will give you options on the news.  Like, someone is lost and you can join a search party or someone’s home or business burned down and they didn’t have insurance so you can donate at this or that bank or bring food or clothing or supplies, or someone’s wheelchair was stolen and maybe you own a wheelchair business and can donate one, or after a massive fire or big flood, there are ways to help – find survivors or open your home to one, or even plant trees… But there are SO many things that are going on and so few solutions or options mentioned.

To get a sense of what I’m talking about, consider our PERS issue here in Portland (Oregon).  This needs to be fixed as it’s affecting the future of our children, and it will affect the future of our retired educators if we don’t do something to fix it.  I don’t have billions of dollars to throw at this.  I don’t know what the answer is.  But isn’t there something I can do to be a part of the solution to fix this?  Someone must have some ideas.

Then consider our graduation rates or homeless situation.  Or consider how wildlife is dying because of the plastic in our ocean.  Think of the migrants coming from South America fleeing from the challenges of their country and drug lords and corruption.  Think of the measles going around and how many children are getting infected because they didn’t get vaccinated.  There is so much going on, it feels quite overwhelming.   I know there are things I can do, we can do.  And I know there are people that want to help.  Again, besides giving money (but also giving money – by those that have it to give) what can I do TODAY to make a difference?

As timely as OPB/NPR is, they had a story today about Altruism (Ted Radio Hour with Guy Raz).  What perfect timing.  Guy talked to Abigail Marsh who showed us that there are people that are just wired to be altruistic.  He talked to Cheryl Steed that showed that even if we weren’t already altruistic, we could be taught to be.  He talked to Peter Singer who showed us that there are ways to be an effective altruist.  Finally, Guy talked to Larissa MacFarquhar that showed how far people will go to help others.

So how do we connect the news of the day with the acts that many of us wish to commit to make our planet a better place to be, or to put our neighbors in a better place – whether it is one person at a time or hundreds at a time through bigger efforts (and/or with more money)?  What is it that I can do today to have any kind of impact on today’s and tomorrow’s challenges?

After each news story, there should be three things I can do right now to affect better outcomes for tomorrow.  If nothing more, at least list the name of a charity that is doing good works to make a difference.

So three things you could do today to make a difference:

  • contact your local media and ask them, after a news story, to include something you could do to affect the outcome of the story – how you could make a difference? Or if they don’t hear you, comment on their news post with your suggestion on what people could do to be helpful
  • stop using one-use plastic anything.  Find reusable options to take it’s place.  Listen to Peggy LaPoint on Kink.fm as she always has an idea on sustainability. Or volunteer with Solv to do a beach cleanup
  • Donate to OPB and ask your employer to match your contribution.  If you’re an employer, offer to match your employees contributions.  (My awesome boss just rolled this option this year and I’m looking forward to maxing it out.  To top it off, he is also giving one paid day off to go volunteer – don’t you want to be an awesome boss too?)
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