We spend our days perusing social media sites, taking tests to see which fictional character we most resemble, taking vocabulary tests to grant rice to starving children or food to pet shelters. We see pictures of famous asses, and also Kim Kardashian. Now that nearly everyone has a smartphone, we tap our way through bus rides, play intermissions, and family dinners. We feel accomplished. By the end of the day, we’ve processed thousands of bits of digital data through our brains, and it’s no wonder we get to the end of the day and we can’t fall asleep because our minds are still revving at overload.
Or we’re stressed to the point of headache, body ache, screaming nerves and muscles that haven’t worked out all the kinks because we’ve been sitting too much.
But what have we done?
I’m as guilty as anyone of this. I should be out getting more exercise, but I don’t because I’m so sore from the fibro, which means I take it easy, which means I spend too much time online so I at least think I’m doing something useful… and I don’t get exercise. The cycle goes on.
We view our world from a safe place in front of a screen, be it computer or phone, and maybe the smaller it is, the more unreal it seems. Just another story on the Kindle. Starvation in Africa. Ebola. Voter disenfranchisement in Iraq. GMOs in some mysterious factories far away. All things that are a shame, and out of our control. But we took time to read the story, so we’re better for it and feel educated.
But, you know what? That’s really not enough.
Starvation? Twenty percent of all the children in THIS country live in what is politely called “food insecure” households. That means they don’t get enough food, or don’t know when their next meal might be. This is despite food-stamp programs, WIC and other subsidies. It’s still that bad. These aren’t those pathetic, big-eyed foreigners in the Sally Struthers commercials. These are kids in your neighborhood. Maybe in your neighbor’s family. Charities across the nation are pooling their resources to provide a holiday meal for these families, but what will they eat the rest of the time?
Use that keyboard to find a way to get out and do something about it. Your time, your hands, your effort will make a difference. Join NoKidHungry or another local organization and give hands-on help, not just an impersonal click.
Ebola? Sure, that’s horrible, and fortunately for us, not a big issue here. But what about supporting the doctors and nurses who are giving their time and risking their lives to help treat these epidemics? What can you and your local hospital do to send supplies or other donations? Get out and do it.
Voter disenfranchisement doesn’t only happen overseas. It happens here and a lot more insidiously than we suspect. The Voter ID laws are just the beginning. Get involved with your local election process and make sure that everyone has a chance to express their opinion. We shouldn’t celebrate a 40% turnout. That’s ridiculous. We have one of the biggest democracies in the world and we don’t even use it. Make sure it’s here for the next generations. Only hands-on work and close supervision will avoid eroding our important rights. (and by the way, you should also read up on the candidates before voting–just because you see an ad means nothing. Name recognition means nothing. Be informed.)
GMOs, food additives, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods? Our American diet is turning into a chemical slurry. It shouldn’t be only the wealthy who can afford to buy local, fresh products. Some of the poorest among us have to buy cheap, processed foods to fill their children’s bellies–and they get the least nutrition from them. See the starvation paragraph above. Volunteer at a food bank in your neighborhood and help during community food drives. Work with Meals on Wheels. Sign up with other agencies to help deliver nutritious foods to people in need, and then get involved in the political process of asking our government representatives to stand strong against fake food. Get your hands on a pen and paper and send them a real letter. They’ll be amazed–and might actually read it.
Why not take that opportunity to put away the tablets and phones and have a real. face to face discussion about what you and your loved ones can do to help the less fortunate in your own neighborhood? It’s really not enough to be grateful–although it’s important. Until everyone can join in— healthy, fed with nutritious food, in a truly safe and representative country where men and women, black and white, rich and poor have the opportunity for meaningful and equal chance to make a life for themselves—then we really haven’t made the dream of those first Pilgrim immigrants to America seeking FREEDOM come true. Put your hands to work, in the real world. Don’t just ‘like’ this and move on.