Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Be the change.

The thing that I like best about the blogging community - especially in the GTA - is that it's not passive. We get together en masse for parties. I have had several playdates with fellow bloggers, and I hope to have more. And now, we're doing something that will have an even larger impact: BlogHers Act Canada. Have you voted yet? Watcha waitin' for, man?? I voted for my personal hot-button issue right now: childcare. Click on the pretty button on my sidebar. Or if that doesn't work cause I'm such a computer loser, click on this link . You know you want to...

Which segues rather nicely into something that I've wanted to post about for a while now. I hope you will pardon me if my thoughts come out rather haphazardly. It's my Achilles Heel. Whenever I feel very strongly about something, I lose the ability to talk about it coherently, and I end up sounding like an idiot. I started this blog in part because I wanted to learn to express myself better.

I'm a details girl. When it comes to tackling large issues, like Bloghers Act - I'm not the instigator. I am perfectly willing to follow other people's lead. I want to help make the world a better place. I fully intend to support, volunteer and get involved in whatever issue we decide to tackle. But I never would have thought to do it in the first place. It's not that I'm unable to see the Big Picture. It's just that I'm more comfortable quietly chipping away at the Big Picture, by handling the details one by one. And since I'm such a thorough little nerd, I always want to start at the most basic level, and go from there. After all, if you don't build a solid foundation, your house may fall.

I think that if you truly want to change the world for the better, you have to start small. It was Mahatma Gandhi who said "Be the change you want to see in the world". To me, that means that if you want to make a difference you have to start at square one - with yourself. If we want this BlogHers Act to be the amazing entity that I believe it can be, we can't allow it to be a singular project (or series of projects). We can't allow it to be a bunch of do-gooders chipping away at random areas of a mountain with no thought for the foundation. And that foundation is us. You. Your family. Your community.

What am I getting at? Good question. Here's another analogy: If you give a homeless man a meal and blanket, you may have helped him, but what have you truly changed? Especially if you still see this man as something other than you, as someone outside your world? What brought this on originally is some reading that I was doing about how it takes a community to raise a baby (me being pregnant, and all), and how here in North America, we have isolated ourselves so much that mothers (not excluding fathers here - they're just often at work) are raising babies alone. Alone, overwhelmed, and depressed - sometimes fatally so. And then I thought - what has happened to our neighbourhoods?

I am blessed to live in a community within Toronto that functions much like a small town, but being shy, I only know a few of my closest neighbour's names. I will sit in the park and quietly play in the sandbox with the Boy, and small groups of mothers hanging out together will completely ignore me. Sometimes I am bold and break into the conversations, but it only rarely turns into a lasting connection. From about 6pm onwards, the neighbourhood is almost deserted. Where are the kids outside playing? Most people will say that it's just not safe to let kids play outside unsupervised anymore. I agree, but we are at the root of that problem. Neighbours used to keep a collective eye out for the children playing outside, but not anymore. Where are we?

We're too busy. Exhausted from the day. Turning on TVs and Playstations for a moments peace and quiet. Driving kids to this lesson or that. Over-scheduling to the point that we're not at home anymore. It takes me weeks and several calendar adjustments to arrange a playdate in the park. It shouldn't be that hard. We need to cut back on the scheduled activities, and put the time back into our families and our communities. We need to cut down on the TV and video games and get our butts outdoors. Populate our communities again, so that they once again become the safe, neighbourly places that they used to be. So that there are always kids to play with when you go to the park. So that hooking up for a coffee date only takes a single phone call. So that no one has to feel alone again.

What does this have to do with BlogHers Act Canada, you say? Well, if a neighbour - someone you thought of as a friend - was hungry, would you not bring them food? If they were sick, would you not offer help? If they were a single parent, would you not offer to babysit to give them a bit of a break? It is my assertion that if we start thinking of the people in this world as our neighbours, as part of our world, then the big issues - the ones we are proposing to act on - might not be as widespread. Maybe eventually, they would even cease to be issues. And the only way to do this, to truly make a change from the bottom up, is to start with ourselves. I know I'm naive. You might even say I was sappy, or Pollyanna-ish. I don't care. It's how I choose to see the world. And I'm going to start making the world better by starting with myself, my family and my community. I'm going to be the change. Won't you help me?

14 comments:

Gabriella said...

So true so true. Very inspirational. I think I'll be trying to follow this as well.

bubandpie said...

I just voted!

Beck said...

Beautiful post!
Childcare IS an important issue. I'm going to go over and see as soon as I'm done replying.

kittenpie said...

I'm the same girl - alone with my child because I don't know how to start talking to someone I don't know. Good thing I like my girl...

We have one neighbour child who we do have a lot of spontaneous outdoor playtimes with, random dinners on the spur of the moment, that kind of thing, and it is awfully nice.

Kyla said...

This was great. I totally agree.

painted maypole said...

Lovely post. And yes, if we saw every needy person as our neighbor, I do think we'd be much more likely to help. No longer us vs. them, but WE. And I love that Ghandi quote.

Have you read Jen's post today at oneplustwo? along the same lines...

jen said...

oh, yes. this is lovely.

peace begins with one. change begins with us.

it is possible.

thailandchani said...

You are fundamentally correct. That is where it begins. We can all have lofty dreams but the way we act as neighbors is the foundation.


Peace,

~Chani

Mimi said...

Ahhhh. I'm totally with you on the community issue. Doing it alone is hard and usually counterproductive and always lonely.

Going over to vote now ...

kgirl said...

word up, sistah.

Christine said...

you are NOt naive or sappy. you are just perfect!

i loved this post, i really did. and i am like you--ready to jump in and help but shy of leading the way. but you know what? this post proved that you ARE leading the way.. bravo!

mamatulip said...

Excellent post. :)

Susanne said...

Well, definitely. Because that's what I believe as well.

My problem with the Just Posts is always that everything I care and write about is distinctly personal and so often I can't seem to show the social side to it.

And I love the Gandhi quote.

ewe are here said...

Stellar post.

'It takes a village' may sound corny, but it's the absolute truth in so many ways...