This is not a political blog post. This is a people blog post. It’s for people—regardless of their political or religious views or even food preferences, for that matter—who care about the state of the world or their country or their community. It’s for people who believe that all people should be treated with respect, love, and kindness and have an opportunity to put food on the table.
Society B is not a politically or religiously based company. We simply believe that people can make a difference—in big and small ways. And we want to make it easier for people to make an impact. So here are 9 easy ways to be the change we wish to see in the world.
A lot of people believe hate is abundant these days. But one cannot fight hate with hate. And this is a tricky thing to overcome, because being angry about hate is a valid thing. But expressing anger through hate only causes more hate. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Show love when you see hate. Speak love when you read hate. For example, let’s pretend your kid comes home from school and tells you he was bullied. It’s natural to be angry and want to tell your kid, “That bully is a jerk. Forget about him.” But imagine how much more productive it would be to explain to your kid that the other kid was probably having a bad day and that he probably felt sad or scared about something that had nothing to do with your kid. And maybe the other kid needs a friend who cares about him to show him how to treat people with kindness. Sure, this might sound like a naïve approach, but it stops hate in its tracks. It shows love. And it teaches empathy. Speaking of empathy…
Let me back into this one. History keeps trying to teach us that violence happens when people feel ignored or desperate for opportunity. To prevent people from feeling ignored or disadvantaged, we need more kindness and opportunity/equality. Kindness is essential for a peaceful world, country, community, workplace, or home. The root of kindness is empathy. When we consider each others’ perspectives and listen to each other—not just to the those with whom we share opinions or backgrounds or cultural views—we not only learn about the world, but we also gain empathy. So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, consider that perhaps they are in a rush to get somewhere that’s more urgent than your situation. Or the next time you see a homeless person, consider all the things that might have happened in that person’s life to lead them to that situation and what that situation must feel like. Maybe we can even take stock of all the things in our lives that contributed to our fortunate lives. Every one of us sees the world through a lens shaped by our own experiences. It is only with empathy that we can be kind and expect kindness in return.
Writer and activist Anna Lappé said, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” The ways in which you spend your hard-earned money matter. Shop from businesses that treat their employees well and make a difference with charitable donations. Support small, local businesses that keep more money in your community. Support women-owned businesses, because women are far less likely to receive small business loans and funds from investors. Better yet, shop at social businesses like Society B where your purchases have the power to make a difference—like bracelets that provide a coffee tree to a woman in Rwanda for 30 years of sustainable income or a candle from Hand in Hand Soap (a small, female-founded business) that provides a month of clean water and a bar of soap to child in Haiti.
Many of us feel that we cannot make a difference because we have boring corporate jobs that have nothing to do with what we’re passionate about. This is what led to the founding of Society B. And while I still have my corporate day-job, I definitely feel more purpose in my day because of my work with Society B. Paying the bills and making an impact don’t need to come from the same source. Our ability to make a difference is not limited to our job descriptions. We can use our non-work hours and our non-work energy to do things we truly care about. Time is a precious commodity, and we can and should use it wisely to invest in the people we love and the purpose we want to pursue.
Social media provides a convenient soapbox or megaphone, and speaking up about things you support—especially when it’s done with love and respect and facts—is a great way to make a difference and invite people into the conversation you’re trying to have with them. Share stories about acts of kindness. Re-post thoughtful, factual articles about issues that matter to you. (And if you’re not sure which news sources to consider as being more valid than the ones you see on Facebook, use this handy chart to help you decide.) Share tweets about causes and non-profits so they can spend less money on marketing and more money on impact. Share things that make you happy, not angry. Speak up about things that make the world a better place.
This sounds obvious, but the takeaway here is to contribute time and funds to non-profits that are making a difference. Pay attention to impact—not just in how much they spend on administrative efforts—and how much their efforts change a person or a community or even the world. In the developing world, depending on where you look, the bottom rung on the ladder out of poverty could be infrastructure (like access to clean water, which keeps people healthy and enables more girls to attend school) or disaster relief or refugee aid. In the US, consider supporting hunger relief, education, or civil rights charities—organizations that reduce the gap in opportunity or address basic human needs. Or go global and help everyone by supporting an environmental organization.
Women rock. We spend more time caring for others. We often spend more time doing household work. And this article is already too long to dive into the inequalities we face in the workforce. When women control a greater share of household income, they invest far more in children and education than men do, which benefits everyone. Empowering women makes good economic sense. So speak up for yourself. Speak up for other women. Spread the word about women-owned businesses and women who are doing amazing things.
A month before the 2016 election, Congress had an approval rating of 18%, according to a Gallup poll. And yet, in 2016, 97% of our Representatives were re-elected and 90% of our Senators were re-elected. What the…? Our elected officials (from Congress to our local school boards) are supposed to make policies that are in the best interest of the people they serve. But they cannot do this effectively if they don’t know what matters to the people they serve. Participate in the democratic process that extends beyond the ballot booth. Know who your elected officials are. (You can find them here, based on your address.) And introduce yourself to them. Tell them what you care about. Share your experiences with them. Listen to theirs. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter and react to what they report. Ask them how they’re going to vote on a bill and why. Our law-makers and decision-makers will probably make better, more informed choices when they know they will be held accountable for their actions.
Vote in every election—not just the presidential elections.
Help us spread the word about the importance of making a difference and getting involved. Share this article with your friends. And tell us about ways you like to make a difference.
This article was written by Lindsay Byers-Hirth, Co-Founder & Chief Giving Officer of Society B.