Special note: While I understand that America is not the world, there are many recommendations (especially in the second section of this article) that will help you make a difference wherever you live. The changes we make in our own communities and countries have a ripple effect that can in fact change the world.
If like me, you find the frequency of mass shootings in America unbearable (and I know that is 100% of you), let’s work together and try to change the world.
You might be wondering … but what can I do? I’m glad you asked. I have some recommendations.
You may also be thinking … I already have so much on my plate, or this is too hard … and while both of those things may be true, I have some thoughts on that too … ways you can take care while you change the world.
No matter how you feel about guns and gun ownership, we all want our children to be safe. We want each other to be safe and well and out there enjoying life.
Why we must take action
“The numbers are staggering, as in you hear them and actually stagger: Firearms are the #1 leading cause of death for American children and teens. The Uvalde shooting was the 212th mass shooting of 2022 in the U.S. The Uvalde shooting was the 27th school shooting in the U.S. this year. In the 23 years since the school shooting in Columbine, Colorado, Congress hasn’t passed a single, major gun safety law. Instead, the only notable change since the Sandy Hook school shooting a decade ago, writes Zara Rahim, is that “kids are now formally trained to hide, barricade doors, fight, or run for their lives. that was the solution. to literally put the responsibility on them to figure it out and wish them luck.”- From this article.
8 ways to change the world
We’ll be so much more powerful if a lot of us are doing a little rather than a few doing it all. I’ll be honest. I usually have a few things on auto pilot, like monthly donations and occasionally calling representatives. Then when something awful happens, I rush in and do a little more until the horror subsides, even though it never really does because before it can, there is more. Moving forward, I’m going to act more consistently.
1. Call your senators.
Leave a detailed message about the changes you want them to make. If you are really pleased with how they are doing, let them know.
Learn why it’s important and how to do it here.
Find out who your senators are and their contact info here.
2. Subscribe to something actionable.
Jessica Craven, creator of Chop Wood, Carry Water shares daily newsletters with 5-7 minutes of action steps including detailed scripts so you can call and or email your reps. If you don’t support progressive policies, you might not enjoy this. Instead of daily action, I’m focusing on weekly action so I open her newsletter once or twice a week vs. daily. If you are interested in taking consistent (almost effortless) action, Jessica does the heavy lifting for you.
For instance, last week she supplied this script to use when calling senators.
Hi, I’m a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is ______.
I want the Senator to strongly support and vote to pass H.R. 8 – the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and H.R.1446 – the Enhanced Background Checks Act, bills that the overwhelming majority of Americans from both parties approve of. I am VERY frustrated that Congress went on recess before these were voted on. We are a grieving, angry, terrified nation. Come back and do something now. Thanks.
I appreciate that she links to the actual bill! I feel so much more informed before reaching out and demanding change.
3. Get your news delivered in a gentler way.
If you are overwhelmed with breaking news, subscribe to The Skimm. Because I don’t like to overwhelm myself with breaking news, I start with The Skimm. I read the short overviews of daily news and decide if I want to dive deeper (or not).
4. Join this.
Join the Everytown Summer Series. When you sign up for the Summer Series, you’ll receive just one text message a week that contains a short video and a quick action. Joining the Summer Series is the most efficient way for you to have a big impact, even when your time to act is tight. The videos and actions will always be under 20 minutes combined, and you can complete the action on the spot or wait until you have time to spare.
5. Read this.
If you think this is a hopeless situation, educate yourself on what can actually make a difference. Read The 6 Things The Senate Can Do To Prevent Senseless Shootings.
Reading these 10 slides on Instagram will help too.
6. Listen to this.
I used to assume this was a fight between people who loved guns and people who didn’t. After listening to this interview with Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action (the nation’s largest grassroots group fighting against gun violence), I realize that whatever your relationship with guns is, most of us want common sense gun regulation like background checks and red flag laws (laws that keep guns from people who are judged to be a danger to themselves or others).
If we want there to be change, we must vote for people who will support the change we want. That means local elections too!
How we can take care while we change the world
1. Assess your media consumption.
How do you get your news? How much time a week do you spend watching “breaking news” or reading tragic headlines. Who do you follow on Social Media? How much time are you investing in debating what you believe with people who can’t change anything? How long does it take you to recover from depressing news stories?
2. Change the way you consume media.
While we can’t turn a blind eye, we can find ways of getting information and taking action instead of getting information and then getting more information and more and more and more. Imagine what you could accomplish if you spent 30 minutes to an hour a week of your media time on doing advocacy work for the changes you want to see in the world. Challenge yourself to take 5-10 minutes of action before checking news or social media (for your first check of the day or every check of the day). Start with one of the eight recommendations above.
3. Curate your social media.
Follow the people and companies who inspire you to make the changes you want to make. Unfollow the people who you really don’t enjoy following (they are only taking you away from how you really want to spend your time).
Continue to reduce stress and overwhelm by simplifying your life. As you create more space in your home and on your calendar and to-do list, you’ll have more time and energy for what matters to you (including advocacy work). To change the world, you may have to simplify your world.
You don’t need to justify rest and relaxation but especially when you are feeling overwhelmed or noticing that things are feeling very heavy, rest and take care of yourself so you can come back and fight some more. When you reach the point of complete depletion it’s harder to recover so pay attention to how you feel.
Yes, there is more to be done and if more of us are doing it, we can rest and take breaks.
6. Prioritize delight.
Does it delight you to bake for your neighbors, read a book under the covers, call a dear friend or watch The Holiday (even when it’s not the holidays)? Whatever it is that gives you that little spark of delight, do it. If you need it, consider this your permission slip to prioritize delight.
7. Schedule your advocacy.
Once you’ve shifted your media consumption, commit to daily or weekly (or something in between) advocacy sessions when you can make a donation, email or call your reps or find a new way to change the world. There are action steps for all of us. Texting and emailing for the introverts and local meetings for the extroverts.
8. When it’s too heavy, put it down.
Always prioritize your mental health. When you need a break, take one. If enough of us are doing this work, we can carry it for you while you rest. When you are stronger, pick it up again.
If we are going to change the world, we must do these things too. It’s not an either or situation but instead, both and.
We can both write to our senators and reject breaking news.
We can both read an article to educate ourselves on the necessary changes we want to support and watch our favorite movie.
We can both attend a march or a meeting to support a cause that is meaningful to us and go to bed early.
Once you have a chance to look through the recommendations above, choose the ones that resonate with you and that you can fit into your schedule consistently. Even if it’s only one thing, it will make a difference.
Together, inch by inch, we will change the world.