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activism is not a "program"
Photo by zappowbang, used with Creative Commons license.
"I used to think that if I cared about anything, I'd have to care about everything, and I'd go stark raving mad."
I'm a little embarrassed to name the title of the movie this quote comes from, so let's just attribute the line to the screenwriters: Susannah Grant, Andy Tennant and Rick Parks (Okay, bonus points for whoever names the movie--no cheating!).
All things high school aside, I think this quote sums up what it can feel like the more you learn about what's really going on in the world. Overwhelming. Hopeless. Maddening. It's hard to know where to start. So here are five steps you can take toward becoming an activist. Because deep down, everyone's got a little activism in them, right?
1. Figure out what your topic is. What gets under your skin: Dirty water? Child trafficking? Freedom violations? Animal cruelty? Global warming? Cancer? We could go on forever.
2. Educate yourself. Do Internet searches, talk to experts. Find out who else cares about your cause, and see what's already being done about it.
3. Share that knowledge. How do you like to communicate? Since you're reading this blog, there's a fair chance you're a blogger yourself or you use Twitter or Facebook. Spread the word, and get your friends and family as worked up about your cause as you are.
4. Be realistic about what you can do for your cause. Are you a millionaire? Give $50,000. An outgoing thousandaire? Give what you can, then solicit donations from the generous folks you know. Are you a student? Volunteer during your summer holiday. A recent graduate? Land a job at a nonprofit. Bored working at your desk? Write your representatives. Are you a kid? Start a club at your school. An athlete? Run a 5k. On your last leg? Create or give to an endowment. Play to your strengths.
5. Acknowledge your accomplishments. In a world that needs a lot of help, it's important to remember that every bit counts.
There are a lot of resources out there on the Web to help get you going. Here are a few:
What other steps would you say are important to becoming an activist for your cause? What are you already doing? Have you made Heifer your cause?

Author

Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She has a master's in social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She is married, a mother of two, and a wannabe urban farmer, raising her own chickens and killing most of her vegetable crops.