Tag Archives: Community

Activist or Slacktivist?

ACT - Action Changes Things

Do you remember seeing weird posts from friends like “I like it on the bed”, “I just found out I’m pregnant” or “Post the color of your bra…”?

I think we’ve all seen one of those weird status posts that a friend will make and when you reach out to find out what’s going on you get a private message something like this…

“Hey! You should not have liked or commented! Now you have to pick one of the 14 below and post to your status. This was the 2014 breast cancer awareness game:

Don’t be a spoil sport choose your poison, and change your status 1) Damn diarrhea 2) Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket 3) Anyone have a tampon, I’m out 4) How do you get rid of foot fungus 5) Why is nobody around when I’m horny? 6) No toilet paper goodbye socks! 7) Someone offered me a job as a prostitute but I’m hesitant. 8) I think I’m in love with someone what should I do? 9) I’ve decided 2 stop wearing underwear. 10) I still love my ex. 11) I really don’t know how 2 tell anyone and I’m sick of hiding it I’m gay. 12) Guess it was 2 good 2 b true I’m pregnant. 13) Just won $7000 on a scratchy. 14) I’ve just found out I’ve been cheated on for the past 5 months. Post with no explanations. Sorry, I fell for it too!”

A respected friend and former co-worker posted this with a tidy rant about people being “slactivists” by just playing these games that get nothing done and to do something worthwhile for a worthy cause. I couldn’t agree more.

I’d never heard the word “slacktivist” before but it fits so perfectly.  You know, the person who hits “like” but doesn’t lift more than there mousing finger to help.

This is the 2017 breast cancer game.  This does nothing to spread awareness of a horrible disease, how does this save lives?  Men need to be aware of this too, their wives, daughters, mothers and even they can wind up with breast cancer!

Hi beautiful ladies so here it is the time of year again when we try to raise awareness of breast cancer through a game. Its very easy and i would like all of you to participate. Last year we had to write the colour of our bra’s on our status. Men wondered for days what was going on with random colors on status’s. This year we make reference to our love life status as a flavor. Do not answer to this message just post corresponding word on your status and send this message privately to all the girls on your friends list. Blueberry is single, pineapple is its complicated, raspberry is I dont want to commit, apple is engaged, cherry is in a relationship, banana is married, avacado is I’m the better half, strawberry is can’t find mr right, lemon is I want to be single and raisin is I want to get married to my partner. Last time the bra game was mentioned on t.v let’s see if we can get there with this one. Please resend this to all your girly friends then update your status with your answer ONLY! DONT TELL ANY GUYS! I hope to see lots of fruit

I like fun and games as much as the next person, but really how does this promote breast cancer awareness?  Most of the statements have nothing to do with breast cancer (and are mostly obnoxious).  How does this get people to self-check? Or donate for research? Or support those who are living with it currently or have survived it?

My mother had breast cancer.  She was quite lucky in the grand scheme of things.  She found a lump in a self-check and told the doctor.  She was then sent for a mammogram and then had a lumpectomy to remove the mass and test to confirm that it was indeed cancer.  She went through a couple of months of radiation and that was it.  Other family, friends, and acquaintances haven’t been so lucky.

Be sure to check out Whispers Kill, Check Them Before You Wreck Them!!!

I don’t think I know a single person that hasn’t been impacted by cancer, breast cancer or otherwise.  Do you?  I personally know people who are currently battling cancer, who have multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy (MD) and autism.  And that’s just the top of the list.  (BTW, if you haven’t heard the new numbers are out.  Autism now affects 1 in 68 children.  Horrifying!)

Now to be fair, participating in these little games is not indicative of what else you do to support issues that you’re passionate about in the rest of your life… participating in fundraisers, making donations, purchasing items that donate to your cause, boycotting items, etc.

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You don’t have to chain yourself to a fence at a nuclear reactor or march or be arrested to be an activist.  You just have to be involved and active.

Here are some links to get you started if you’re interested in donating, clicking on any of them will open a new page for that organization:

CLICK HERE  to read a great article from Just Give.org about how to help the homeless.  Remember that almost all organizations are always looking for volunteers.  Check out Volunteer Match.org to find volunteering opportunities in your neighborhood.

Don’t forget your local community needs your help too!  Libraries, homeless shelters, animal shelter, blood drives, various coat/clothing/food drives at area churches, food pantries are always looking for donations and volunteers.  Being active in your community helps to build a better place to live!

If you recall recent news, due to an incident in a Utah school, people have been donating money to local schools to pay unpaid lunch tabs to ensure that kids get to eat lunch.  How awesome is that?

So be proud, tell people what you’ve done and encourage them to do the same.  Remember, even if it’s the $2 you were going to spend for your morning coffee, it still helps!  Click that “other” box and fill out the amount.  No matter how much or how little you can help it will be appreciated.

Participate in breast cancer walks, MDA walks, blood drives, food drives or volunteer your time.  Check out my post called Reading is FUNdamental for another great idea for volunteerism!  Get your kids involved and teach them to care about their community.

Remember that there can be other rewards as well.  I knew a woman who volunteered at the local Y so she could have a family membership in return.  My daughter used to volunteer at a local stable during hippotherapy sessions; in exchange, volunteers were offered free riding time.  Our local science museum (COSI) trades membership for volunteer hours. If you complete the maximum amount of hours, you get lifetime family admission, which is also good at any reciprocal science center in the country.

Volunteering is also a great way to get on the job experience without having a paid job, a great way for the kids to start out before they start looking for paid work.  Throughout my high school years, I babysat for the blood mobile, babysat for a bowling alley during league play, assisted the leader of my sister’s Girl Scout troop and was an obedience instructor at our local canine club.

And the best part?  Activism makes you feel good about yourself and connected to the world around you!

So show off your passions, promote your causes, make people aware and care, tell them what you do and challenge them to join you.  Be an activist and help those causes that you’re passionate about, show those “slactivists” how it’s done.  Let them know it’s not enough to play silly games, they have to help.  Then post pictures, give dates of drives and ask your friends what they’re doing and see if they want to join you in the fun.

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

P.S.  If there are any great causes that you are passionate about, leave me a message and I’ll be happy to add it to this list for others to see!

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No More Invisible People

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m very passionate about homelessness.

Several of my previous blog posts have touched on the subject, but Insights into the Dark  and Water, Water Everywhere got in-depth on this issue.  Having spent time on the streets and in a shelter for a thankfully only a brief time, was enough to permanently open my eyes and my heart to a situation that will never go away but can be lessened with compassion, understanding and organization.

Once again I found myself getting very angry seeing news reports out of London where the current trend is putting  spikes in areas where homeless people may seek shelter.

A picture shows short metal spikes designed to stop homeless people sleeping outside the entrance of a residential building in south London on June 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl Court)
A picture shows short metal spikes designed to stop homeless people sleeping outside the entrance of a residential building in south London on June 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl Court)

Their mayor has distanced himself from the issue so as to not appear anti-homeless people and not anger voters at the same time.

It’s bad enough that legislators and law enforcement want to keep the homeless out of sight, but because most folks have been seeing this for so long, they don’t even notice anymore.  It’s not that they’ve turned an intentional blind eye but now we’re so conditioned that we have to force ourselves to look.

Research has shown that it’s cheaper to house the homeless than allow them to stay on the streets.  The Orlando Sentinel published an article recently where their research into the situation found that it costs Florida taxpayers $31,000 per person between criminalization and hospitalization.  It’s calculated that it costs $21,000 MORE per person for these people to be homeless than housed!  Incredible!  It’s not often that fiscal responsibility and social responsibility wind up on the same side of the argument, so why aren’t we fixing this?

The most chronically homeless are the mentally ill which are why hospitalization is chronically incurred.  It’s been this way since the 80’s with President Reagan’s  budget changes in mental health funding.  There’s plenty of articles out there if you want to read more about it, here’s one from Salon that rather in-depth entitled Ronald Reagan’s Shameful Legacy.  It gives a really comprehensive look at the timeline of events.

When the mentally ill are on the streets, un-medicated, unsupervised, their condition worsens to an alarming level.  People who could live fairly normal lives with a little guidance and supervision wind up on the streets and stay there as their conditions and lives deteriorate.

Thanks to the collapse of the housing market we have more empty homes in this country since it’s inception with entire communities becoming virtual ghost towns.   I recently read this article about how Detroit is selling off abandoned properties at lower prices than used cars, just to get people in them and get their communities going again.

I was delighted today however to read this uplifting article about a group called 100,000 homes.  They are a grassroots group that are working with various communities to house the homeless.  Their four-year campaign to complete the goal of housing 100,000 homeless people was not only reached but exceeded!  101,628 people were housed and they’re just getting started.

Check out 100,000 Homes website to find out what’s going on in your area and what you can do to help or to get help for someone you care about.  It’s these groups that gather and give us hope.  The problem isn’t too far gone and it’s not too overwhelming.

The majority of family, friends and neighbors live paycheck to paycheck and it’s estimated that 75% of our citizens maintain little or no savings.  The loss of a job, a series of extra expenses like medical bills and car repairs can throw someone into a spiral that they can’t get out of alone.

So I’m asking…  Please look.  Please help.  Everyone out there is someone’s son or daughter, Aunt or Uncle, Mom or Dad.  Help their family as you would hope someone would help yours.  Even if it’s the courtesy and respect of eye contact.

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Update:  Just as I was getting ready to publish this, I was blessed and overjoyed to find this amazing bit of news.  This is the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time! Watch the video below & enjoy!

Teaching the Keys to Safety is Essential

When my daughter was still in elementary school there was a stranger danger alert.

Remember this

 

While I no longer have a child at home, seeing this picture on Facebook brought it all rushing back.  My daughter rode her bike back and forth to school.  We lived just a few blocks from the school which made her a walker but she had no one to walk with her.  Due to severe health problems at the time resulting in surgery, I was unable to drive her.

According to the school, riding a bike to school was considered a “privilege” reserved for 3rd graders and above.  I finally got them to concede that riding a bike by yourself was safer than walking by yourself.  And since they weren’t willing to walk with her or find someone to do so, they finally allowed her to ride solo.

In addition, I had gotten my daughter a Tracfone that she took with her anytime she was out by herself so she could call for help if she fell off her bike riding around the neighborhood or later on needed to check in to tell me when she got to her final destination (store, library, etc).   I used to get her the card with a year of service every Christmas and every year she had leftover minutes that would roll over.  At the time they only came with 150 minutes, so she did great!

Anyway, on “stranger danger day” the whole school was on lock down.  I was panicking because she was late and I had no way of finding out what was going on and no way to go looking for her.  (I think this was a week or two after my abdominal surgery.)  I called the school and thankfully found out what was going on.   My daughter in the meantime was panicking because she was going to be late and she knew I would worry and they wouldn’t let her call home on her phone or theirs!  (Yes, I took that up with the school too.)

Here in the Midwest, all towns are equipped with tornado sirens.  They are tested everywhere on Wednesdays at noon and carry an unmistakable sound that lets everyone for miles know of impending danger.

I wrote a letter to the mayor, the school board and the principal asking that a similar system be utilized to put everyone on alert.  My suggestion to them was that we use something similar to the tornado siren system to alert everyone to what was going on.

Not only would a siren notify parents as to why students would be delayed, but it would alert students to “drill” type procedures like a fire alarm as well as letting area neighbors know that they needed to be on the look out for suspicious people in the area.  My suggestion was declined with a letter telling me that it was too much effort and unnecessary.

While I always knew I placed more value on my daughter than anyone else did, it was very disturbing to see it written out and her worth be considered so negligible.  It was the following school year that I began homeschooling my daughter.

In the meantime, in the “aftermath” of the event, one of the local news stations had interviewed a few people and it was on the air that very night.  One police officer commented that it’s very hard to catch “strangers” because children made such horrible witnesses because they have no concept of age, weight, etc.

Following the suggestions that officer made during that interview, my wheels got moving.  We called an “emergency” Brownie meeting that the parents were required to attend with the girls.  We did mock sessions asking the kids to describe us.  We met at the school, so having the chalkboard at our disposal we wrote out the answers the girls came up.  Adults were described as being anywhere from 20 to 100 years old, up to 1500 lbs and 20 feet tall!

When we asked the kids to describe what a stranger looked like, it was like asking them to describe a comic villain.  They were confused at first when we told them that a stranger is anyone you don’t know.  They can be handsome, friendly, clean and can even have a puppy.

We then taught them (and their parents) that rather than trying to come up with numbers, to do comparisons instead. Cindy’s dad looks as old as my dad or he’s fat like Uncle Bob or Patty’s mom is skinny like Aunt Judy, wears her hair like my babysitter or smiles like Grandma.

Size, shape, skin color, hair color, hair style and car makes, models & colors are all something that can be accurately communicated this way as long as children are taught to look for the comparisons so they can related them to you or police.

If a child does witness anything and are communicating with police, parents will be called and involved.  From there, police can clarify descriptions with the parents… how old is Dad, how are Uncle Bob or Aunt Judy built, etc.

I used to teach employees that the best form of security is good customer service.  Engage the customer and maintain eye contact.   There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids this too.  Those people who do bad things look for easy targets, whether it’s an adult or child.  They want someone who is easily intimidated and manipulated.   Assertiveness training is not just for adulthood, a dynamic personality keeps people safe at any age.

None of these things need be taught by panic.  The goal is not to teach paranoia  but rather awareness.  Play is always the best way to teach.  Make it a game.

  • Take pictures of celebrities and have your child describe them trying to have you guess who it is.
  • Point out scenarios that you see on the street that you feel could be unsafe and engage your child in conversation.  “See that little girl alone on the street corner?  That doesn’t look safe to me.  What do you think?”
    • It shows you listen to them and value their opinion
    • It teaches them to look around them to see situations and to watch out for other people.
  • Selling popcorn and cookies for Scouts or fundraisers for school or church are great ways to get them to practice eye contact and assertiveness (along with salesmanship, manners & cash handling).

Passwords are also a great means of security that we utilized as well.  It’s that extra step that not only makes them feel safe but makes them feel empowered.  We now live in a world filled with passwords, get them used to it early.  Let them learn what a good password is and let them practice even when you pick them up.  It’s a secret shared with only you two.

One last thing.  Teach your child to listen to their gut (or their “spidey sense” as I like to call it).  Whether it’s a neighbor or a relative, if they give your kid the creeps, please don’t force contact or allow them to be alone with that person.

Learning to trust your primal instincts is a good skill and one we unfortunately don’t listen to often enough.  How many times have you done something, only to kick yourself later commenting “I KNEW I shouldn’t have done that!” or “I had a bad feeling about that, but did it anyway”?

When Kid was little I read an article about a study done with victims of molestation.  Almost all of them had come from families where there was forced intimacy… meaning “go give Uncle Bernie a kiss”, “I don’t want to, I don’t like him” only to be told to do it anyway or something guilt provoking like “he’ll be sad” or he’s gonna cry”.  To adults it tends to be a big game to teach about manners.  I remember these vividly from my own childhood.

Sadly, instead of teaching manners, it teaches children that adults have authority over their bodies.  It also teaches that if they don’t listen to “Uncle Bernie” that they can get yelled at, punished, etc. by their parents or their parents will be mad at them.  I had never considered this until reading that article and it had a profound impact me based on incidents in my own childhood.

I know you want to keep your kids safe, and I want your kids to be safe too.  The world is a scary place but that doesn’t mean they have to be scared of it.  Give them the tools they need that keep them safe and will also help you sleep at night.

 

{{{hugs}}}

 

Maggie