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MercyA

Changing the world for the better--share your perspectives

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Outside of our relationships with our partners and children, what are the most important, concrete, everyday things we can do to change the world for the better?

Totally open question. I love and respect you all and want to hear from you. I need some focus right now. 

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I was told by a smart lady once that I could use the skills that I have to make the world a better place. I have followed that advice for 12 years now. I volunteer at my local public school once a week: I help in their computer lab for teaching k and 1st graders computer skills and how to use simple computer apps and do “Mathlab” activities where we play math games with manipulatives and board games. I also volunteer as a team parent for my son’s sports team and bring water and snacks every week ( most parents forget to bring water bottles and I am the water bottle lady).

I tutor Algebra 1 and Geometry for free to a friend’s kid who has significant learning issues and all the local private learning centers don’t work for him.

i moderate 2 forums online that is related to specific skill sets.

i grow a ton of food in my small suburban lot: I have excess organic produce that I give to friends and coworkers on a weekly basis. They appreciate it a lot because I grow varieties that are hard to find in supermarkets.

we do donate money to 2 worthy causes every year (we also get a tax break by doing so), so, not entirely altruistic on that one!

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Be kind to retail, food service, and janitorial workers. Be mean to everyone else.  
jk.

but seriously, when you are ordering food and the waiter/ff worker comes to you with a delay/problem, it goes A LONG WAY  to give them a smile and a “no worries!”.  Stuff like that.   

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I serve in the community I live in. My particular niche skill is advocacy work. How I have done that has varied over the years, but it’s the core thing I do. 

I usually serve in a few different places, a few hours a week. 

I am careful where I choose to serve. My time is precious, I both guard it and give it freely. But I am careful to aim for places where I can make meaningful change with my influence. 

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I think your point about needing focus is spot on. I feel a strong need to serve and feel connected to others and my community. I also want to model that for my children. 

I think figuring out your motivation is a good first step. Then, think about your skill set. Finally, look to your community. It may be local, online, or far away. I have a friend who is a volunteer at a Chinese garden. She loves Chinese culture and loves meeting new people, so she works as a tour guide. I have another friend who created a small non profit business to employ Honduran women (she lives there also). I have a friend who sits on various city committees. I have a friend who does remote translation work for migrants because they speak a rare-ish language. Another friend sponsors household setup for refugees. Another teaches budgeting classes. Like, there is a place for everyone. Figure out what you can and want to bring to the table.

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For me, it’s important to find ways to help individuals around me, and also to try to make a difference on a global scale.  The world will never change through uncoordinated, small actions, even though those small things are always worth doing.  So I band together with like-minded people to advocate for larger-scale change while trying to help locally.

This looks very different depending on where I live and what types of larger organizations I can reasonably be involved with from my current location.  Right now, I’m working with a family who is trying to bring their last two children here. They fled their own country nearly three years ago and had to leave half their children behind.  I’m also helping several women set up a sewing business so they can afford to send their children to school. And I organize regular cleanups at a Jewish cemetery that needs volunteers because few Jews are left in this country to care for the cemetery. But I’m also working with an online group to educate people about national and international policies that affect the ability of the refugees and asylum seekers to find a permanent, safe place to live. Because things will never get better in many places if we don’t change how we’re doing things.

Edited by Amira
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I make the world a better place by my involvement in Scouting. It is the world's largest peace organization, as a friend likes to say.

I also make the world a better place by mentoring homeschool moms, and by raising good food for people to eat. 

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I jealously guard children's right and need to play, citing research and maintaining visibility on education sites that are visited by young teachers who may not get the administrative support to make play-based education the basis for their curriculum. 

I am a Christian, so I try to pray to have God "show" me what he wants me to do. I believe he has already laid it out pretty clearly, but I ask for more guidance on specifics. I don't always follow thru, tho 

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I make the world a better place by spreading awareness of homeschooling. I also work at a local charity shop twice a week. Oh and I try to participate in my church's fundraising events as well whenever possible. 

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I spent 20 years as a foster parent.  There is a huge need for foster parents, people to support the foster parents but also a huge need for people to help prevent the need for foster care.

One or more families that can invest in the lives of an at risk family (parents and children) can make a huge difference.  Lower cost car repair, emergency child care for a sick child, someone to help navigate social services, involving them in family activities, etc can go a long way to preservation ng family stability for lower income and single parents.

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most important everyday thing you can do to make the world better is use your resources wisely.   I learned all that in scouting and from family, particularly those who were in the Great Depression.  Invest in education as poverty is costly.  Respect others.  Think.  Innovate. Spread love and ease suffering as you go about your long term goals.  Pay it forward.

Edited by HeighHo
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I recently decided to cultivate generosity in myself, as my natural inclination in limited. Since 2009, we've had Giving Week every August, and it's my favorite week of the year--but I want to be open-handed all the time, within my means. So at nevermindy-two years old, I'm using a Google sheet as a daily behavior chart for myself. 😊

Practices I record are things like:

  • donating food (My church has an ongoing collection, so I just have to bring it there.)
  • cleaning up litter
  • volunteering at the food bank (now DS is old enough to work with me 🧡)
  • shopping for the family we help through the Box Project
  • putting together a non-perishable lunch to keep in my car after each time I give one away (My area has some people who ask on street corners--I figure if anybody is at that point, giving them a sack lunch is the least I can do.) I do at minimum a pop-top can of soup, another one of fruit, and utensils.
  • Kiva loans
  • clothing for a local organization that helps kids have something to wear to school.

 

If on a given day, I don't do something, that's fine, but I have to check "No, I did not engage in generosity today."

 

You could use the same concept for anything you want to cultivate--minimizing your environmental impact (I've pretty much done what I can in this area), strengthening community connections, advocating for justice via your elected representatives--whatever calls you.

Edited by whitehawk
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Raising children with great critical thinking skills, a love of learning and embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit. That stretches me about as far as I can go right now. 

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Was a foster parent before adopting.  I am considering fostering again after my son launches.  

If not that, then some other way of helping children.  

I also have had 4 rescued dogs. 

Otherwise, I think, trying to be nice with people, though I sometimes mess up. 

 

I like to share this book, and am sorry to see that it seems to be oop 

Because Brian Hugged His Mother https://www.amazon.com/dp/1883220890/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_LlPtEbF421KS8

 

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One word - responsibility.

the more I interact with people in all kinds of scenarios and situations, the more I see it completely missing. It seems that blaming others and trying to "fix everyone else" and coming up with excuses  has become the motto of today. Whether it's jobs or parenting or simple interactions in a grocery store - people don't want to take responsibility for their own actions.

Don't try to fix the world, take responsibility for yourself

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I also want to say, Mercy, that whatever you want to pursue, it's nice to have built-in encouragement. So thinking about your goal, follow relevant people/organizations on any social media you might use, join groups, listen to inspirational music, whatever, for support in your efforts.

I changed churches last year and joined a congregation in which loving one's neighbor is not merely talk, not a side thing, but the entire point. It's so helpful and keeps giving me the push I need.

This helps sustain my efforts and reminds me that I'm not alone in what I'm trying to do.

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Positive, loving encounters with as many people as possible.

Targeted donations toward education of at-risk people.

Take less, give more.

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I try to be an encouragement to the parents of young children that I come in contact with. This can be something as complementing a parent of their child’s behavior in church, store or elsewhere. Most of all, I try to let the love of Christ shine through me in all I say or do. No, I fail each and every day, but God’s mercy is also new each day🙏🏻

Edited by May
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I separate my individual efforts to reduce suffering and my collective. I think both are important. Day to day I try and do individual acts, but ultimately I think the most important is being aware of the structures that increase suffering and addressing those by, at a minimum, how I vote. When someone is suffering in front of you, you do what you can at the moment, but if you can address the cause of the suffering as well, you have made the world even better. I find the individual efforts more emotionally rewarding and the collective depressing right now, but I try keep plugging away at the latter because it is so important.

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What was that old saying.... 

Think Global, Act Local

I believe many people these days (particularly high school age) are stressed and anxious about big, global, environmental and political issues. On a world or even national scale, these issues feel overwhelming. 

But if each person, each family could determine to be kind and just and generous *within his/her/their own sphere of influence*, that is doable and would certainly add up. A person can even satisfy a heart's desire of pursuing a specific interest, such as gardening, as long as it’s done with a mindset towards the common good. 

I wish there were a switch that could be easily flipped to make everyone more other-oriented. As a believer, I think it must start with always seeing each individual I encounter as an image bearer of God. 

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Prayer. I believe it changes things in ways we can't possibly understand. Not in a transactional vending machine I-pray-God-gives kind of way, but mostly in the way it changes our perspectives to be more like God's as we do it.

Cheerful purposeful giving til it hurts our budgets a bit and seems like "too much" to charities we've vetted that use 95%+ of donations to actually go towards the group(s) they claim to help. No matter what our income level is.

Be kind and loving to all the people we come into contact with throughout the day, especially the ones who don't act kind and loving to us. This includes crappy customer service reps at the store and rude idiotic people with different political opinions on Facebook and legalistic brothers and sisters at church and frustrating demanding children in my own house. 

I actually think moms and dads investing time and energy into their own marriages to keep them strong and then using that strength to nurture their children will change the world more than any of these other things, but you asked for things other than that 🙂

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Buy less crap. Seriously. Consumerism is so destructive in so many ways, both physically to the environment and to relationships.

Feed someone. Anyone. Anything.  Even if it’s just a cup of coffee. Even if they aren’t hungry, there’s something spiritual about sharing any kind of sustenance with another that uplifts souls. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “food is love,” but it is something indelible when shared in genuine kindness.

Go for a walk. Alone or with someone. No earbuds to tune out the world.  Suddenly we notice things we drive past every day without really seeing. 

Make the most important things in your life reflected in where you put your money and your time.  So many people live with regrets that they misspent money or time. So many people think “someday” how they spend their money and their time will actually reflect their life goals and values. For many someday never comes. 

Edited by Murphy101
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Being authentic and mending pieces of people's souls, when they're up for it. People are for cultivating.

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15 hours ago, mathnerd said:

I was told by a smart lady once that I could use the skills that I have to make the world a better place. I have followed that advice for 12 years now. I volunteer at my local public school once a week: I help in their computer lab for teaching k and 1st graders computer skills and how to use simple computer apps and do “Mathlab” activities where we play math games with manipulatives and board games. I also volunteer as a team parent for my son’s sports team and bring water and snacks every week ( most parents forget to bring water bottles and I am the water bottle lady).

I tutor Algebra 1 and Geometry for free to a friend’s kid who has significant learning issues and all the local private learning centers don’t work for him.

i moderate 2 forums online that is related to specific skill sets.

i grow a ton of food in my small suburban lot: I have excess organic produce that I give to friends and coworkers on a weekly basis. They appreciate it a lot because I grow varieties that are hard to find in supermarkets.

we do donate money to 2 worthy causes every year (we also get a tax break by doing so), so, not entirely altruistic on that one!

 

This reminds me of the bet between Phoebe and Joey on Friends. LOL. [Warning: This clip mentions Santa's existence, in case you're around little ears.]

Edited by Angie in VA
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I try to do my job well, and go the extra little mile for people. I work in healthcare and see so many people stuck in the system, not knowing where to go for the next step. This sounds like a "um, of course all employees should do that!" type thing, but honestly, I see so, so many people who don't. Many of my coworkers just want to punch a clock and go home. The do the minimum adequate to complete their task, and call it a day. There is no pay difference between the employee who goes out the way to help a patient.....and the employee who just does the minimum.  There is nothing on a performance eval (as long as you 'meet expectations') that does anything more than is a note in a folder. I once had an employee laugh at me, telling me I was stupid to stand out, because then I would be the 'go-to for the bosses when they didn't want to do a task themselves'.  She was right, but I didn't care. I would rather go to work and feel like I made a difference in someones life, than just punching a clock and collecting a paycheck. 

As a total aside....she was my coworker who use to brag about not nursing her kids because "these are fun bags....not feed bags"....yeah, she was a real klassy lady. She never did anything that was the slightest inconvenience to herself.

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I looked after my ex's developmentally disabled uncle for 20 years, until he passed away. He spent a lot of his life shut away in group homes where no one ever visited him, but once I married into the family and we moved to the UK, I started visiting him all the time and insisted on bringing him to all family gatherings (much to MIL's displeasure, who didn't want him "ruining" her Christmas or other events). When we eventually decided to move back to the US, he was panicked at the thought of being left behind, but I promised him he would go with us, wherever we lived, for the rest of his life. Once we moved, I got him his own little apartment in an assisted living place 5 minutes from our house — he was in his 70s then and it was the first time in his entire life he had any kind of independence or a space to call his own, other than a sparsely furnished room in a group home or institution. I decorated it from top to bottom in a cowboy theme, because he decided if he was going to live in the western US, he was going to be a cowboy, and he even got all the staff and residents there to call him Cowboy. He had a tendency to lose things, so he got a label maker and stuck labels on everything with the name "Cowboy." 😂 After we started homeschooling he confessed that he had never had any schooling once his mom sent him away (at age 11), and he asked if I would help him get his HS diploma. So I bought him some workbooks and  adapted readers and he loved telling people he was going to get his HS diploma. When I got divorced, I insisted on "custody" of Cowboy as well as the kids, so he moved with us to another state, where I found another assisted living place less than a mile from our house, and he got a new cowboy-themed apartment, complete with a cowboy Christmas tree he loved so much he kept it up year round. As his health started failing, he brought up the idea of getting his diploma again, so I ordered a beautiful diploma online and bought him a cap and gown and we got him all dressed up and I presented his diploma and took pictures and everyone congratulated him. Then he went out for ice cream with some of the other residents, had a wonderful dinner, and fell asleep while watching TV with his cat in his lap. He passed away in his sleep that night, after finally "graduating" from high school at the age of 88. 😭 I still miss him like crazy.

I also try to help out friends and family, I always offer to help moms who are traveling alone with little kids (BTDT and it sucks), I'm always nice to cashiers and wait staff and flight attendants and anyone who has to deal with the public all day (because that's my idea of hell, lol). Once my kids are totally launched and settled, I'd like to start fostering for a dog rescue. 

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I got distracted and hit post before actually making my point or answering your question about perspective.

The actual point I was wanting to make is that I have a general policy of starting with what I can manage and building up when I can. I put things on autopilot when it's possible and develop caring/giving into habits and practices that just become part of my life.

I can't do anything heroic, but I can do a little today and a little more tomorrow. I can look for ways to move through my life as intentionally as possible and to make the well-being of others a factor in my decision-making.

So, for me, currently, that looks like:

I choose paid work that I believe benefits others. I spent three years working for the public library system, where I was underpaid but was able to see and interact with the people I was serving. When I left that job, I landed at a for-profit corporation that still has an educational focus. I still believe that I am doing work that directly benefits people by providing reasonably priced and readily accessible job training and driver education and similar courses. However, one of the ways I made this career move palatable to myself was by committing to giving away at least a certain percentage of the increase in salary I got by leaving the non-profit world. I now donate specifically to the library's educational programs and belong to their friends of the library organization; I have remained active with the fiber arts community based at the library and contributed a fair amount of both time and items to their annual community art project. I make recurring/monthly donations to a other, mostly local organizations. I also contribute annually to and volunteer for one other organization's holiday event. One of my somewhat squishy goals for this year (because I just wasn't up to putting any pressure on myself to get very specific) is to start volunteering with another of the organizations I already support financially.

I was just talking to my husband this evening about wanting to get more involved with the community support/volunteering group at my office. Thus far, I have given to a couple of office-based fund-raisers and signed up to walk in a charity event, but I am hoping to do more hands-on stuff, too.

As others have mentioned, I have a general policy of being nice to the people with whom I interact. 

I try to shop thoughtfully and ethically. I have been a vegetarian for 30+ years and a vegan for over 20. I buy cruelty-free household and personal care products. I research before I shop and try to spend my money, when I do shop, with businesses that operate as ethically and sustainably as possible.

I have three rescued pets.

It never feels like "enough," but it's what I can do right now.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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The car loan & accepting help threads reminded me of another thing: I have never sold or traded an old car. I drive them until the cost of repairs doesn't make financial sense for me (10-15 years), and then I give them to someone who really needs a car and who can either do the repairs themselves or who can afford to pay for the repairs since the car is free. 

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7 hours ago, Corraleno said:

I looked after my ex's developmentally disabled uncle for 20 years, until he passed away. He spent a lot of his life shut away in group homes where no one ever visited him, but once I married into the family and we moved to the UK, I started visiting him all the time and insisted on bringing him to all family gatherings (much to MIL's displeasure, who didn't want him "ruining" her Christmas or other events). When we eventually decided to move back to the US, he was panicked at the thought of being left behind, but I promised him he would go with us, wherever we lived, for the rest of his life. Once we moved, I got him his own little apartment in an assisted living place 5 minutes from our house — he was in his 70s then and it was the first time in his entire life he had any kind of independence or a space to call his own, other than a sparsely furnished room in a group home or institution. I decorated it from top to bottom in a cowboy theme, because he decided if he was going to live in the western US, he was going to be a cowboy, and he even got all the staff and residents there to call him Cowboy. He had a tendency to lose things, so he got a label maker and stuck labels on everything with the name "Cowboy." 😂 After we started homeschooling he confessed that he had never had any schooling once his mom sent him away (at age 11), and he asked if I would help him get his HS diploma. So I bought him some workbooks and  adapted readers and he loved telling people he was going to get his HS diploma. When I got divorced, I insisted on "custody" of Cowboy as well as the kids, so he moved with us to another state, where I found another assisted living place less than a mile from our house, and he got a new cowboy-themed apartment, complete with a cowboy Christmas tree he loved so much he kept it up year round. As his health started failing, he brought up the idea of getting his diploma again, so I ordered a beautiful diploma online and bought him a cap and gown and we got him all dressed up and I presented his diploma and took pictures and everyone congratulated him. Then he went out for ice cream with some of the other residents, had a wonderful dinner, and fell asleep while watching TV with his cat in his lap. He passed away in his sleep that night, after finally "graduating" from high school at the age of 88. 😭 I still miss him like crazy.

I also try to help out friends and family, I always offer to help moms who are traveling alone with little kids (BTDT and it sucks), I'm always nice to cashiers and wait staff and flight attendants and anyone who has to deal with the public all day (because that's my idea of hell, lol). Once my kids are totally launched and settled, I'd like to start fostering for a dog rescue. 

This has made my day🌺 Thank you for sharing this❤️

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Little things matter and we can't all do big things. There are often different times of life when different things are possible.

I've had times when I've been able to give of my time and money very generously.  Money to causes I consider worthy (sponsoring children, donating to medical care for underserved people) and time to help with my church, local homeschooling organizations, things like that. 

Now, I don't have the funds or time to do those things. So I try to focus on being kind to everyone I come across.

I work in a very negative environment. It's a call center where I support a bank. The atmosphere is stressful and chaotic. None of my coworkers is happy working there, but for various reasons we are not able to find better employment (for me, it was being out of the workforce for 20 years while i homeschooled my kids). I try to bring a little humor to the place, and be a calming influence. I am conscious of being kind to the customers I interact with even though many of them seem to be completely ignorant of how banking works, some are rude, some are beyond rude.  For me right now, that's the best thing I can do to make a small part of the world better.

And, what Wendy said about being kind to wait staff and other service people.  Y'all have no idea how much we get beaten down by nasty customers and often by our own bosses. 

Edited by marbel
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2 hours ago, May said:

This has made my day🌺 Thank you for sharing this❤️

Right?!? @Corraleno, you rock. You did an amazing thing.

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I agree with others that individuals doing small things can help change the world.

Being generally respectful and kind to people. Trying to see other people's point of view and realizing even views that you don't hold can be completely valid--we all have different experiences and world views. Realize having views that don't align with yours does not make someone evil. Greeting and giving small compliments to people you meet can make a huge difference in someone's day.

My family went vegan a little over two years ago for our health and to do our part for the environment. Avoid single use plastics and plastic packaging. Buy locally whenever possible. Compost and keep a greenhouse/garden to grow food...give extras to the neighbors. 

Donate unused items to charity. Shop at antique and thrift stores for some things. 

Do volunteer work.

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Can I add two more cents?  This is something I struggle with personally, so I hope it doesn't seem lecture-y.

Support/encourage people who bring beauty and pleasure into our lives. Artists, musicians, authors, etc. 

This is so depending on financial resources, I know. But I struggle with always using the library instead of buying the book (new, in  hardback even!) so the author actually makes some money from it. I'm not thinking of established authors who already make vast amounts of money, but newer authors who aren't... and won't, if people don't buy their books.  And, at full price, at a bookstore, not discounted Amazon price (which is still of course better than not buying the book at all). 

Or music. Used to be we would buy records, and some of that money went to the musician(s). Now, musicians pretty much have to give the music away for close to free, so they have to make it up with higher ticket and swag prices.  So, maybe I should buy the t-shirt from bands whose music I stream for free. (I know they get something from streaming services but pretty sure it's not much.)  Again, I am not worried about established artists who have made a lot of  money already, but younger ones trying to get established. 

And artists... I know historically artists have relied on wealthy patrons but sometimes I'd like to buy the painting, photograph, or print from the artist. Or the beautifully-sewn item, instead of thinking "oh I can do this myself" which I can't to to the level of excellence, and probably won't anyway.  

Is buying art in whatever form a good use of our resources?  Do we want people to be able to make beautiful art for us to enjoy?  Like I said, I struggle with this because I believe, in theory anyway, that the answer to both those questions is yes, but feel a bit of a hypocrite because I don't actually spend my money that way.

Edited by marbel
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I'm a believer that small actions can cause a ripple effect in the world.  I try and take time to smile warmly, greet people, and strike up little conversations with strangers when I can.  We live inner-city now, and I take walks almost daily and pass lots of different types of people.  We are beginning to have a bigger problem with young men joining gangs, getting into lots of trouble.  If I pass a young man of that age and background-type on the sidewalk (which I do, quite often), I make a point of greeting them with a friendly hello and a kind smile, and will stop and help them if they need help with something.  (I'm in my late 50's so don't have to worry about my friendliness ever being taken the wrong way!)

I try and get to know the stranger next to me.  I truly love hearing people's life stories, no matter how different they are from me.   So if I think the stranger sitting next to me is open to talking, I'll ask a few questions, and then listen.  (But don't worry, if you clearly don't want to talk, I'll leave you alone.  I'm not pushy.  :)) 

I ride the elevator a lot (we live on the 30th floor :)), and I'll often ask the complete stranger standing next to me, "How's your day going so far?"  Just that little question breaks the ice and makes us elevator friends;  next time I run into them in the elevator, we'll talk more.  It's such a simple thing to do.

Someone else mentioned treating retail workers, etc., kindly.  I'm a firm believer in that.  I used to just treat them as a business face, not a real person.  Since having children working in the hospitality industry and retail industry, I've completely changed my tune on that, and wonder how I was so dumb about that before.  Now I really make a point of starting every transaction with a "How's your day going?" and a smile.

I try not to take things personally.  Unless someone is really horrendously mean to me (or sleazy), I try and remind myself that something in their lives put them in the situation they're in now, making them feel crabby or whatever.  Maybe their father is dying or their marriage is failing, etc.   I try to respond to their crabby remark with a kind or understanding response, and usually the conversation changes.  (Granted, I'm not always good at that, but I do try.)

I try not to judge.  People are so quick to judge.  (Me too!)  I think at heart, most people are good people, trying to do the best they can given who they are and what they've experienced.  

And just little things -- holding the door open for the person behind me, letting a young mom with a crying baby go before me in line at the grocery store, etc. 

Oh, just thought of another thing -- I write letters to people from my past if I hear about a major struggle they're having, even if they're people I didn't know well, or who wouldn't remember me.   I know this can make a difference, being on the receiving end of letters like that at one point.  There were days that letters and short notes from old friends and even strangers got me through my day.

I've enjoyed people's responses.  Thanks for posting this, Mercy!

 

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On 2/20/2020 at 10:21 PM, Corraleno said:

I looked after my ex's developmentally disabled uncle for 20 years, until he passed away. He spent a lot of his life shut away in group homes where no one ever visited him, but once I married into the family and we moved to the UK, I started visiting him all the time and insisted on bringing him to all family gatherings (much to MIL's displeasure, who didn't want him "ruining" her Christmas or other events). When we eventually decided to move back to the US, he was panicked at the thought of being left behind, but I promised him he would go with us, wherever we lived, for the rest of his life. Once we moved, I got him his own little apartment in an assisted living place 5 minutes from our house — he was in his 70s then and it was the first time in his entire life he had any kind of independence or a space to call his own, other than a sparsely furnished room in a group home or institution. I decorated it from top to bottom in a cowboy theme, because he decided if he was going to live in the western US, he was going to be a cowboy, and he even got all the staff and residents there to call him Cowboy. He had a tendency to lose things, so he got a label maker and stuck labels on everything with the name "Cowboy." 😂 After we started homeschooling he confessed that he had never had any schooling once his mom sent him away (at age 11), and he asked if I would help him get his HS diploma. So I bought him some workbooks and  adapted readers and he loved telling people he was going to get his HS diploma. When I got divorced, I insisted on "custody" of Cowboy as well as the kids, so he moved with us to another state, where I found another assisted living place less than a mile from our house, and he got a new cowboy-themed apartment, complete with a cowboy Christmas tree he loved so much he kept it up year round. As his health started failing, he brought up the idea of getting his diploma again, so I ordered a beautiful diploma online and bought him a cap and gown and we got him all dressed up and I presented his diploma and took pictures and everyone congratulated him. Then he went out for ice cream with some of the other residents, had a wonderful dinner, and fell asleep while watching TV with his cat in his lap. He passed away in his sleep that night, after finally "graduating" from high school at the age of 88. 😭 I still miss him like crazy.

I also try to help out friends and family, I always offer to help moms who are traveling alone with little kids (BTDT and it sucks), I'm always nice to cashiers and wait staff and flight attendants and anyone who has to deal with the public all day (because that's my idea of hell, lol). Once my kids are totally launched and settled, I'd like to start fostering for a dog rescue. 

This is beautiful. You are a beautiful  person. Thank you so much for your generous spirit and for sharing this story with us. I love it. 

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8 hours ago, Seasider too said:

This is beautiful. You are a beautiful  person. Thank you so much for your generous spirit and for sharing this story with us. I love it. 

I agree.  I wanted to give her a giant hug after reading it.  Wow.

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On 2/20/2020 at 11:21 PM, Corraleno said:

I looked after my ex's developmentally disabled uncle for 20 years, until he passed away.

<snip>

Oh that is so beautiful. What a lovely way to care for someone.  

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@May @marbel @Seasider too @J-rap @MercyA

I'll take the photo down later, but here is the "graduation portrait" I took of Cowboy when he got his HS diploma. He was so so proud and happy that day and everyone was congratulating him and making a big fuss over him. Some of the staff even came in on their day off to see him dressed up and congratulate him. When I kissed him goodbye as he was leaving to go get ice cream, I said "I love you, buddy, I'll see you tomorrow." Everyone was in complete shock that he passed away that night. But he had the very best "last day" he could have hoped for, and I think once he checked off that last item on his bucket list, he was ready for a long sleep. He was the sweetest, happiest, most forgiving person I've ever known. He wasn't the least bit angry or bitter about the way his family had treated him, even though he was well aware of how much he had missed out on. He was just incredibly, touchingly grateful for anything I ever did for him. His first Christmas with us in the US, we called my MIL to wish her a Merry Christmas and put it on speaker-phone so he could talk to her. When she asked him what he'd been up to lately, he grinned and said "makin' up for lost time." 😭

CowboyGraduation.jpeg.c2c1101b0a7304ad45dad217c73bbbc3.jpeg

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10 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

@May @marbel @Seasider too @J-rap @MercyA

I'll take the photo down later, but here is the "graduation portrait" I took of Cowboy when he got his HS diploma. He was so so proud and happy that day and everyone was congratulating him and making a big fuss over him. Some of the staff even came in on their day off to see him dressed up and congratulate him. When I kissed him goodbye as he was leaving to go get ice cream, I said "I love you, buddy, I'll see you tomorrow." Everyone was in complete shock that he passed away that night. But he had the very best "last day" he could have hoped for, and I think once he checked off that last item on his bucket list, he was ready for a long sleep. He was the sweetest, happiest, most forgiving person I've ever known. He wasn't the least bit angry or bitter about the way his family had treated him, even though he was well aware of how much he had missed out on. He was just incredibly, touchingly grateful for anything I ever did for him. His first Christmas with us in the US, we called my MIL to wish her a Merry Christmas and put it on speaker-phone so he could talk to her. When she asked him what he'd been up to lately, he grinned and said "makin' up for lost time." 😭

 

 

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

You can see sweetness and joy all over his face. 

Well done, Corraleno. Very well done. 

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God has allowed some hard things in my life, and I have experienced the loneliness that comes along with walking through struggles without real support.  So when our church was considering Stephen Ministry, I felt God calling me to fill that role. As a Stephen Minister, I am able to (imperfectly) walk with someone through pain and loss.  I can give them my undivided attention every week and truly listen as they share how they are struggling and cheer them on when they are taking steps toward hope and healing. I am there for however long it takes.  It is a transformative thing to have someone really invest in you, to remind you that you are lovable and loved, and to pray over you. I believe that caring for even a single person well can have a ripple effect down the road as they are more emotionally healthy and able to relate to others well.  I don't do it for the "results." I do it because I am called to love others, and I can think of no more needed thing in our disconnected society than having a true friend there with you in life's darkest moments.  I pray that in some way it helps the woman I meet with better understand how loved and accepted she is by God.

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On 2/20/2020 at 11:21 PM, Corraleno said:

I looked after my ex's developmentally disabled uncle for 20 years, until he passed away. He spent a lot of his life shut away in group homes where no one ever visited him, but once I married into the family and we moved to the UK, I started visiting him all the time and insisted on bringing him to all family gatherings (much to MIL's displeasure, who didn't want him "ruining" her Christmas or other events). When we eventually decided to move back to the US, he was panicked at the thought of being left behind, but I promised him he would go with us, wherever we lived, for the rest of his life. Once we moved, I got him his own little apartment in an assisted living place 5 minutes from our house — he was in his 70s then and it was the first time in his entire life he had any kind of independence or a space to call his own, other than a sparsely furnished room in a group home or institution. I decorated it from top to bottom in a cowboy theme, because he decided if he was going to live in the western US, he was going to be a cowboy, and he even got all the staff and residents there to call him Cowboy. He had a tendency to lose things, so he got a label maker and stuck labels on everything with the name "Cowboy." 😂 After we started homeschooling he confessed that he had never had any schooling once his mom sent him away (at age 11), and he asked if I would help him get his HS diploma. So I bought him some workbooks and  adapted readers and he loved telling people he was going to get his HS diploma. When I got divorced, I insisted on "custody" of Cowboy as well as the kids, so he moved with us to another state, where I found another assisted living place less than a mile from our house, and he got a new cowboy-themed apartment, complete with a cowboy Christmas tree he loved so much he kept it up year round. As his health started failing, he brought up the idea of getting his diploma again, so I ordered a beautiful diploma online and bought him a cap and gown and we got him all dressed up and I presented his diploma and took pictures and everyone congratulated him. Then he went out for ice cream with some of the other residents, had a wonderful dinner, and fell asleep while watching TV with his cat in his lap. He passed away in his sleep that night, after finally "graduating" from high school at the age of 88. 😭 I still miss him like crazy.

 

This is one if the most beautiful things I've ever read. You truly did change the world ❤

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On 2/20/2020 at 11:13 AM, Seasider too said:

What was that old saying.... 

Think Global, Act Local

I believe many people these days (particularly high school age) are stressed and anxious about big, global, environmental and political issues. On a world or even national scale, these issues feel overwhelming. 

But if each person, each family could determine to be kind and just and generous *within his/her/their own sphere of influence*, that is doable and would certainly add up. A person can even satisfy a heart's desire of pursuing a specific interest, such as gardening, as long as it’s done with a mindset towards the common good. 

 

I was going to post that saying so I'm glad I read through the posts first. Think globally, act locally can apply in numerous ways. I think starting close to home is a good way to make things better. IIRC, the saying was originally used in giving people ways to help the environment but one can act locally to help battered women, the homeless, senior citizens, veterans, animal shelters, and on and on. And you can also act locally to help the environment as @Murphy101's post below points out.

On 2/20/2020 at 2:49 PM, Murphy101 said:

Buy less crap. Seriously. Consumerism is so destructive in so many ways, both physically to the environment and to relationships.

Feed someone. Anyone. Anything.  Even if it’s just a cup of coffee. Even if they aren’t hungry, there’s something spiritual about sharing any kind of sustenance with another that uplifts souls. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “food is love,” but it is something indelible when shared in genuine kindness.

Go for a walk. Alone or with someone. No earbuds to tune out the world.  Suddenly we notice things we drive past every day without really seeing. 

Make the most important things in your life reflected in where you put your money and your time.  So many people live with regrets that they misspent money or time. So many people think “someday” how they spend their money and their time will actually reflect their life goals and values. For many someday never comes. 

+1000 

All of the above.

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