Pardon me for a moment while I climb up on this soapbox … whoa … there we go … all situated now …
Let me preface this post by saying this is not a politically-charged message. I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. But, regardless of whether you believe government should be big or small … regulated or irregular … red or blue … honest or corrupt … I don’t care about that here. What I believe is that we have a very divided nation and two very different perspectives on how politics, the economy, and international affairs should be addressed. You are welcome to believe whatever you want to believe, and I will continue to believe what is right. 😉
But I also believe that we are currently putting a lot of faith (or lack thereof) in our politicians, and expecting our government to turn on a dime to recover from an economic collapse that was a long-time coming. (I won’t tell you when I think it started if you won’t tell me when you think it started.) The point is that trying to turn the American Economy is a little like trying to steer the Titanic. If it could have happened overnight, it wouldn’t have crashed into that iceberg. (Be honest. How many of you also saw that epic movie FOUR times while it was in the theaters for an entire YEAR?)
So, while we’re scrambling to elect the officials that we think will do the best jobs for our cities, states, and nation, I just want to encourage you to think about the bureaucracy and politics they will face on a daily basis, which will hinder them from actually achieving any of the goals they’ve set forth, which caused us to vote for them in the first place. This is why I’m such a huge advocate of being the change Gandhi warned us we would need to be in this world.
What I mean by that is this … while big corporations are waiting for their bail outs, and state governments continue to cut funding for education, and some wise masterminds have set out to balance our national deficit, there are a lot of small, local organizations working hard to take care of our friends and neighbors in this time of crisis.
Because I’ve just recently discovered the local thrift store, and it’s work to feed the hungry members of my community, I’ve done some research. Do you know that our local food bank feeds 28% of our population? That number is staggering to me. 28% of my friends and neighbors are in need of assistance just to put food on the table? That’s more than one in four people that I pass on the street each day. And that’s *just* the people in this community that are aware of the services the food bank provides. The people who volunteer to run the thrift stores and food bank show up to help their neighbors without being compensated for their time. They are supporting a non-profit organization that aims to help people for the sole purpose of helping people. They are out in the garden growing nutritious food for hungry people to eat, and developing programs to keep this community thriving. It’s a hidden gem that too few people (in my humble opinion) are supporting. So, my challenge for the rest of the year is to purchase nothing “new,” for my already-minimized household, but to shop the thrift stores to support their financial goals. And, I’m considering carving some time out of my schedule to find a way to volunteer … although that time may have to be reserved for my children’s school.
Meanwhile, I also happen to know of a man with Diabetes who has fallen on hard economic times. And, with the staggering price of health care these days and the equally-staggering rate of unemployment, I started researching healthcare options. He doesn’t qualify for Medicare. He can’t afford his insurance premiums. But he has to have his supplies and medications to remain healthy. What are the options? I looked at all of the government sites. Doesn’t qualify for this and doesn’t qualify for that. That’s when I discovered this site … Blue Sparrow Medical, which provides options for reasonably-priced supplies for people without insurance. There are probably plenty of other resources I did not discover. But what strikes me as unique about this company is that it is not a non-profit. It is an actual for-profit business that is simply doing the right thing for people in need. That’s what I like to see. No government mandate. No requirement by our lawmakers to do the right thing. Just people helping humanity because that is what we should do as humans.
There are a million other causes and humanitarian relief efforts I could describe here … but you didn’t come here for a lecture. My point is this … while there is certainly a time and place for politicians to do their jobs and make wide sweeping legislative changes that will some day affect our country as a whole, there are a lot of other people working hard every day to have an impact on our communities and the welfare of our citizens. So, rather than sitting back griping about what our government is and is not doing, I want to encourage you to find the local resources that are doing good for your community and support them. Contribute financially. Volunteer. Help people.
And while you’re at it, think about where the dollars you spend are going. Let’s face it. We’re all consumers. We live in the ultimate capitalist society. We have to buy “stuff” to function here in America. But I’d encourage you to be wise about where you are spending your money … are you driving extra miles and paying ferry fare to save a buck at a huge, multi-national box store that is paying its workers minimum wage and cutting their hours back to just shy of enough to receive benefits in order to drive their bottom-line revenue? Or are you taking a slight hit on your own bottom line to support your locally-owned grocer, hardware store, or book seller? Because as consumers, we have the power to change the way our big businesses function.
For example, many of my community’s local grocery stores have recently switched to carrying local and organic produce based entirely on consumer demand. They’ll sell anything to make a profit, so long as consumers are demanding it. Likewise, if we continue to support our local businesses, they’ll survive and thrive, be able to employ more of our friends and neighbors, and drive down our community’s 28% dependence on the local food bank.
That is all. My apologies for preaching at you. I don’t plan to do it again any time soon. But in this crazy economy, I’d just like to submit that we put our political differences aside and let our consumer behaviors and buying decisions speak FAR louder (and have more immediate impact on our local community) than our votes during this mid-term election that is right around the corner. By all means, vote. But vote with your wallet too.