I emailed President Obama. I don't think he'll read it, but that wasn't the point. I wanted to make a change. Then I did.
This weekend I went to a global health conference. During an advocacy workshop, the speaker, CEO of the non-profit RESULTS, shared some surprising facts with us. Most Americans think the country is not going in the right direction, and a majority of them think there is nothing we can do about it. We are worrying, and we are hopeless. He said this fact motivates him to keep working. It is his mission in life to make some of those Americans open their eyes and see that they can try to make a change.
"Make a change." How many times have you heard that said? It was always probably accompanied by some non-profit propaganda. Making a change does not have to be a huge lifestyle change. It's an attitude first, and an action later.
I love how at college we dig deep into the problems of the world. We swim in them, discuss them, tease them apart and analyze them. We write papers and present slides about them. In our conversations, problems dominate. How often are we seriously asking ourselves the question -- What can we do?
I sat in my math class and wondered why my professor hadn't formally been hired. This semester, because my professor had to take a week off at one point, we'd witnessed the teaching styles of every calculus professor. He is the best one. And yet, Smith College wasn't offering him a job. I engaged the thought that this wasn't fair. Then my thoughts wandered to the paper I needed to write. I really needed to finish this paper. Wait. Why didn't I pursue this desire to change something? Why didn't I think about what I could do? I didn't think there was anything I could do. We aren't usually taught how to make small changes like these.
Email President Obama and ask him to donate 2.6 billion dollars to the Global Fund to fight HIV, malaria and TB, the presenter told us. It was as simple as visiting the White House webpage, clicking the "Participate" option, and filling out a form. Everyone in the room was silent as they typed their messages into their smartphones. Someone raised their hand at the end to say that the activity had been empowering. Another person added that the process had been much easier than they had expected.
How difficult could sending an email be? We were all moved by the simple act of filling out a form. Making a change, having your voice heard, all these actions are made to seem monumental. When we see that it simply comes down to filling out a form, we're surprised. You just need a cause, people supporting you, the words to say and a person who will receive your message. Sometimes that's all you need to have your voice heard and make a change.
This morning I made everyone in my math class sign a piece of paper if they wanted Smith to hire our professor. What was just a thought in my mind became an action. I'm not an extremely optimistic individual, or a particularly motivated one. I'm not driven enough to be a hero. I did this because it was actually quite easy. I want my college to hire my math professor (the cause) so I collect a list of names (the people to support me), write a convincing argument (the words to say) and email the department chair (this is the person who will receive my message). Sometimes that's all I need to make a change.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a paper to write.