The Sea of Despair?
As Election Day looms, I’m contemplating the power of the vote. Amidst the current turbulence, many frustrated citizens feel they have just one way to elevate their voices – vote. There is a prevailing feeling that casting a ballot next week is our last remaining pathway to change.
A lot of that may be true. But while voting is always imperative, the work of our local nonprofit and philanthropy sectors can’t be overlooked as another critical pathway to change. Perhaps now more than ever before.
As I was drafting an annual appeal letter for a client, I realized we’re nearing the time of year I contemplate my personal giving. My husband and I typically donate to a couple different nonprofit organizations, doing our best to make some sort of small impact.
Lately though, I feel adrift in a turbulent sea of troubling issues, wave upon wave of devastating news stories that make me feel so completely helpless. Dramatic? Maybe, but I think I used to be able to say, “The three things I care most deeply about supporting are x, y, and z.” Now it seems that there are more urgent issues, more troubling headlines, and more people at risk. I could have millions of dollars and still feel confused as to how to prioritize and really move the needle for the causes I am passionate about.
Have you drowned in my sea of despair yet? I’ll try to battle my pessimistic tendencies because, after all, there is indeed a brightspot here.
There is a breadth of NH-based organizations tackling the issues that infuriate and sadden me (and maybe you, too) on a daily basis. Spend some time thinking about what your feeling of despair may represent. If you can hone in on what you think needs tackling, there is probably a nonprofit working on it.
For example, media and truth are hot button topics for me right now. In particular, how we think critically (or don’t…) about the myriad messages we consume. I've always felt that social media plays a big role in reducing empathy. Without empathy, how do we bridge the increasingly polarized political divide to understand other perspectives and converse about compromise?
So yeah, where on earth could I direct a donation to increase empathy? After some digging, I found Media Power Youth, a local organization that teaches youth how to make the connection between media messages and impact on their own lives and actions. Participants learn to think critically about messaging and how to responsibly engage in social media. Right in my backyard, a nonprofit has recognized this sentiment I’ve been grappling with and is working to help future voters understand how to better analyze what they see and hear.
You can take that hopelessness, do some self-exploration about what’s driving that feeling, and match the outcome with local organizations finding solutions. They likely can’t fix everything you feel is broken, but they are pouring their hearts and souls into pushing forward, fighting back, and supporting people who are suffering.
So vote. Vote hard next week. Bring someone else with you to vote. Hold each other accountable for voting. Be proud and fired up when you vote.
But also consider doing more. We should all try to drown out the despair and invest in tomorrow. Even if it is one $50 contribution at a time.