Pearls & Vodka

How to Turn Complaints into Changes

How to Turn Complaints into Changes

Barack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” [1]

How are we not in the Second Civil War

Our Facebook news feeds and our Twitter feeds are filled with armchair legislators and overly opinionated celebrities who demand changes but take no action to support them. Thank God for Instagram, and its pictures! Honestly, if you read Twitter a lot, you are probably shocked that we have not already entered a Second Civil War. Let the social media platforms tell it, we can’t get along to save our lives in this country; and sadly, it really is costing us lives.

Today is Election Day in the United States. I think after last year’s rousing election that we are on a burnout phase in this country. I would bet the voter turnout is low in places outside of Virginia. Their Governor’s race is popular this year, but most people are just sick of talking about elections. And sadly, a lot have lost faith in our electoral system. But that’s another topic, for another blog.

I’ve always said, I find it super annoying when people complain about election results and then they don’t vote. That’s part of my beef with Colin Kaepernick, as previously mentioned on this blog. I struggle with folks who rant and rant and rant and then do nothing to “put their money where their mouth is” so to speak.

Sunday’s shooting in Texas was just another devastating reminder that in our plight to disagree in this country, innocent lives are being lost in the crossfire.

What the NRA is doing right is what you are doing wrong

It’s easy to whip out your phone and fire off a 140-character Tweet about how you hate the NRA and they are what is wrong with our country. But here’s the thing, there are over 5 million Americans who are members of the NRA and they just as easily go online and make their $35 membership dues payment. And while you might argue that the NRA idly stands by while innocent lives are taken by gun violence, they would argue that they are the premier firearms education organization in the world. George Stephanopoulous once said about the NRA, “They’re good citizens. They call their congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time.” And that’s the deal folks, the NRA is an incredibly active organization. Yes, the NRA has made almost 4 million dollars in donations to current members of congress. And yes, nearly every donation is to a Republican official. But they are a success story in our country.

Get off Twitter and Go Vote

The NRA has done what every single other American organization, and cause, needs to do. They have activated their base, they have created a loyal following, and like George has said, they actively pursue what they want to happen by writing their officials, by voting and by contributing. They do not sit on the sidelines hoping for their rights to be protected. They do not watch from the comfort of their own homes hoping they will get what they want. They go after it. They do all the things necessary to ensure their voices are heard and their requests are answered.

They do what you and I can do but choose not to do

Jen Hatmaker said on Facebook today, “Love your leaders? Vote. Don’t love your leaders? Vote. Want to see change? Vote. Want to keep in leaders you trust? Vote.” [2] I’m so tired of hearing people say, “I’m not voting, it doesn’t matter what I think.” Great logic, do nothing and complain because nothing is changing. Come on man!

If You Don’t Like “it,” Get off Twitter and Fix “it”

  • Don’t like sexual harassment by powerful men?
    • Don’t pay money to see their movies, or buy their jerseys, or whatever the “thing” is that funds their lives. Stop participating. Will it stop it all? No. But at least you won’t have the proverbial “blood” on your hands. And all change starts with at least one person, try being that one person, instead of one of the masses ranting.
  • Don’t like how easy it is to buy a gun?
    • Go check out Everytown for Gun Safety. They are counting on folks like you who don’t like “it” to join with them to help pass common-sense laws and implement policies that will save lives. [3]
  • Don’t like that someone would want to “mess” with your “right to bear arms?”
    • Everytown’s research shows that 65% of the shootings that take place in a home or vehicle happen with guns that belong to the victim’s family that were most often legally owned but irresponsibly stored. More than two-thirds of these tragedies could have been avoided if the gun owner stored their guns responsibly. Take some action to ensure that your weapons are stored properly. Teach your children about gun safety. Teach them to respect weapons and other people. [4]
  • Don’t like that everyone isn’t insured?
    • Donate money to organizations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food. More than 50% of their patients are under, or uninsured. Only 14% of their money comes from insurance recoveries. 82 cents for every dollar received for the past seven years has gone to support the treatment, research and future needs of St. Jude. Approximately 75% of the funds necessary to operate St. Jude must be raised from generous donors. Become that donor today. It doesn’t solve the problem for every American, but when nearly 16,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone and almost 2k will lose their battle, it certainly helps. [5]
  • Don’t like that abortion is legal and want to defund Planned Parenthood?
    • Abortion referrals and services are just one aspect of what Planned Parenthood offers. If you don’t like that their organization does that, that is your right. But what about offering birth control somewhere else to those who can’t afford it? What about general health care that prevents illnesses and serves as early detection for issues that need treatment? What about medications and testing for HIV? Would you rather it just spread rampantly with no access to help for those who cannot afford it? What about pelvic exams and mammograms? I get it. It’s not the picture-perfect solution for those who don’t view abortion as the “right” decision. But, what answer do you have for those who need any of those other services but cannot afford it?
  • Don’t like that racism still exists in our society?
    • What about volunteering for the Stand Against Racism campaign of the YWCA that is working to build a community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities? Sure, it’s easier to sit at home and put hashtags like #blacklivesmatter on all your posts. But what about taking action, taking a stand, making a donation? [6]
  • Don’t like how uncomfortable the homeless guy on the corner by Chick Fil A makes you feel?
    • Don’t feel uncomfortable, give him some food. Don’t want to give him money because you don’t trust what he will spend it on? Fine, give him food. Give him water. Give him a coat. Give him a blanket. Give him a pillow. Give him some shoes, or clothes. Give him something tangible.
  • Don’t like that our veterans return from combat and are homeless?
    • Volunteer with Homes for Our Troops. Donate to Operation Homefront. Stop sitting around talking about what a tragedy it is that these men and women are not better taken care of. Stop waiting on the VA to get it together. Start being the help these heroes need. [7]
  • Don’t like that the public schools are failing in your area and you cannot afford private schools for your kids?
    • How often do you volunteer at your child’s school? Do you donate old toys, or old books to the classrooms when your kids are done with them? Do you leave coats hanging in your closets that don’t fit your kids anymore, or do you give them to the school to help kids who can’t afford jackets? Tired of the violence at your child’s school? Have you donated to the Big Brother, Big Sister program so that these at-risk students have a mentor? Do you do something as simple as pray for the teachers in the school? Have you thought about helping to organize efforts to rejuvenate trade schools during high school and help to create a new workforce, or do you just complain about the drop out rates?
  • Don’t like that someone would want to remove the Confederate monuments?
    • In April of 2003, Americans everywhere cheered at the sight of the US Marines toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square with M88 armored vehicles. While you may argue that removing the statues is a ploy to change history. What would it be like for the families of the shooting in Texas Sunday to be forced to pass by a statue of Devin Patrick Kelley in their square downtown. This man killed their family members. You would deem that wrong, on so many levels. What about erecting statues to more soldiers lost in war defending our nation, the real heroes? What about memorializing those who have fought for our freedom? What about teaching BOTH sides of history in our schools? If we replace our history with a narrative we are more comfortable with, we are likely to repeat it.
  • Don’t like that a gay couple can get married just like a straight couple?
    • Have you ever had a gay friend? It seems like a simple question, maybe even trite. But really. Have you ever walked through death with a gay couple? Did you feel like her girlfriend should be in the room as she took her final breaths? Your gay friend that was dying, did she not deserve to have the person she loved more than anyone there holding her hand as she slipped away? That’s something that comes along with rights given to married couples inside the regulations of our hospital system. Even if it comes down to that one example, no one deserves to die alone without their loved one.

Life is not always easy. The answers are not always obvious. But as George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” [8] Sometimes life comes down to compromise. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, or comfortable or even a neat and tidy experience. But it’s a necessary experience. What makes America beautiful is that we are diverse. We don’t look the same. We don’t talk the same. We don’t believe the same. We don’t like the same things. But what we do all bleed the same. That DNA that runs through each body is unique to that person, but underneath our skin, we are all the same. We all have hopes, we all have fears, we all have dreams.

Where Do We Go from Here?

So today, take some action, go vote, jump online and donate money to a good cause, go clean out your closet and give your old stuff to someone in need, for every negative tweet you want to post, post three kind ones. Be the change you want to see. And please remember, for every organization mentioned on here today there are are countless others doing good work to help bring about change, get involved where you feel led, just GET INVOLVED!

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/us/politics/05text-obama.html
[2] https://www.facebook.com/jenhatmaker
[3] https://everytownresearch.org
[4] https://everytownresearch.org/issue/unintentional-deaths/
[5] https://www.stjude.org
[6] http://www.standagainstracism.org/
[7] https://www.military1.com/veterans/article/1557692014-3-charities-helping-homeless-veterans/
[8] https://outrunchange.com/2013/11/20/progress-is-impossible-without-change-and-those-who-cannot-change-their-minds-cannot-change-anything/

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash