The Five Minute Activist

If we learned nothing else over the last four or five years, it’s that we still have a lot of work to do to make the world a better place. However, if everyone does their part in making their voices heard, we’ll get the job done a lot faster.

The good news is that you can get it done in five-minute chunks. That’s less time than it takes to drink a tall latte. Try these:

  1. Call or email your elected reps. At the federal level, the Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Just follow the prompts to be connected to your senator’s or rep’s office. To email, visit https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or https://www.house.gov/representatives and find their cyber-addresses there. For the state officials, go to https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/.
  2. If you choose to stop buying products or shopping at certain stores due to their support of things detrimental to the common good, don’t stop there. Shoot them an email and let them know why you are choosing to do so. Recently, we dumped our warehouse club due to their support of a certain pillow manufacturer. They needed to know why we were cutting ties with them, and when they decide to cut ties with that vendor, we’ll talk.
  3. Going back to 1…if you call an elected representative’s office and they give you the runaround or treat you rudely, let others know of your experience. There’s always Twitter. One of your local friendly news people might want to know about the incident. I am blessed and lucky to have Lauren Underwood for my rep right now. Before her, however…there was Randy Hultgren, ignorer of emails and purveyor of rude staffers. Like one named Brian who hung up on me. I wasn’t the only one. I heard other stories of the office door being locked and knocks going unanswered while staffers peeked through gaps in the blinds. I regret not sharing my experience with media contacts. Make sure you document time and names.
  4. Find alternatives for entertainment: used book stores, streaming services, good ol’ PBS, independent musicians, so on. So much of what’s portrayed on network TV in the US is poor quality or over the top violent.
  5. Make choices to support the environment. Buy whatever organic products you can afford (I know, pricy, but even a single tomato can help). Eat a few meatless meals a week, or if you can’t do veg food, do some sustainably raised fish or poultry.
  6. Be mindful of small things like water and energy consumption.
  7. Smile. You’re taking action, even in small ways. Be proud. You’re a drop of water in a river, a wave, and you’re doing your part to wash everything clean.

We Interrupt the Latest Celebrity Meltdown…

HEY! (jumping up and down while waving arms in the air) Over here! In the soybean field! 

Ok, do I have your attention now? Good. Did you know that late last week and this weekend, the House voted to cut SNAP by 40%? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps? The one that helps keep people who are elderly, disabled, veterans, and members of military families, and small children fed? That one. In an act of pure meanness, it was cut to balance the budget. 

The amount saved was like cutting your toenails to lose weight. 

I talked to Hubby a little while ago. He had turned on one of the morning “news” shows for a little background noise while he completes this round on his mom’s house. The lead story was about Oprah having nearly had a nervous breakdown. Seriously. Having been there and done that, she has my sympathy. However, Hubby had no idea that the cuts had happened, or that Taiwan and Hong Kong were feeling the aftereffects of a typhoon that looks like Sandy redux, or that Al-Quada operatives from a cell in Somalia had taken hostages at a mall in Nairobi and there had been a lot of explosions and gunfire. 

Donations to some international relief organization will help Kong Kong and Taiwan. Beyond prayers and holding the people of Kenya in our thoughts, we can’t do much about that situation. 

There are things we can do to help SNAP recipients here at home, though:

  • Please practice nonjudgement about how they ended up on assistance. The vast majority of recipients are working poor of all colors, military families, seniors on Social Security, or living with disabilities that prevent them from working, and children. I worked in social services, and concede that there are people who abuse the system. However, there are many more who get abused by the system, such as one client who was bounced between her financial aid office, the public assistance office, and her deadbeat ex-husband. Her family had thrown her out when she found out that she was pregnant and would have nothing more to do with her. Every time she had a increase in one form of benefits, another was cut. Eventually, she gave up, dropped out of school, and stopped coming for sessions.  Wherever she is, I hope that she’s ok.
  • Don’t be a single issue voter. Everyone wants the most bang for their tax buck, and no one wants unwarranted increases, but see where candidates stand on other issues, such as promoting the development of green industries or infrastructure to support job creation. 
  • Educate yourself about the issues involved in hunger and its prevention.
  • Donate to your local food bank, either nonperishables or cash. 

Thank you for listening. We now return you to the latest celebrity meltdown.

Karma and I will see you at the voting booth in November.