One of the common grievances people express these days is that they feel powerless. Powerless to stop bad things from happening in the world. Powerless to change the trajectory of our negative influence on our planet. Powerless to get governments to change their policies. Powerless to get the money out of the hands of rich people and into the hands of people who really need it. Powerless to create meaningful change.
We all have power but many don’t use it
But the truth is we all have power but many don’t use it. When terrible events happen we get upset and hate what is going on, but often don’t do anything to work together to create change. You may not feel there is any point in trying because your efforts feel insular, a little voice in the big noise of life. You may be too afraid to tell other people what you think and how you would like them to support your cause.
Your engagement with a cause doesn’t guarantee that things will change. However nothing will ever change if we all leave it to someone else to take the initiative, take the lead. Or maybe we don’t yet have the habit of helping others carry the load of educating others to support the need for change.
How to get involved.
As global citizens we need to inform ourselves about any issue of concern. We then need to find an avenue that we can contribute to meaningful change. This doesn’t have to involve money or even much time. If you are cash rich but time poor then a donation will always be welcome in any cause. If you have more time than money you can join protests and marches and help with fundraising. There is power in numbers and when you get involved with other people who are passionate about a cause, it will also make you feel more powerful.
If you find any of these things difficult to participate in, due to your commitments or other reasons, you could create or at least, sign an online petition. To add your voice and vote for change via an e-petition, literally takes seconds and costs you nothing.
If you are dismayed at the world and what is happening, try and do one thing. Make your mark, no matter how insignificant it feels. 10 million small voices add up to one very big and powerful voice.But if everyone thinks they don’t matter, we never get the power of numbers.
What’s the deal with petitions?
If you can’t get anywhere with your own government and are in the EU, you can petition the EU. One of the fundamental rights of European citizens is that “any citizen, acting individually or jointly with others, may at any time exercise his/her right of petition to the European Parliament…… A petition may take the form of a complaint or a request and may relate to issues of public or private interest.”
These petitions to the EU “may present an individual request, a complaint or observation concerning the application of EU law or an appeal to the European Parliament to adopt a position on a specific matter. Such petitions give the European Parliament the opportunity of calling attention to any infringement of a European citizen’s rights by a Member State or local authorities or other institution.”
Here in Ireland “parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate.” You may think that 100,000 signatures is a lot, but with social media, if people get passionate, these petition numbers can grow substantially in a very short time. This is the beauty of social media. For every person on any social media platform, their outreach can be in the hundreds or thousands of ‘friends’.
You may be afraid of marching in protests and worry about engaging with people who might support the other side (like in France at the moment). The beauty of petitions is that they won’t get you to place yourself in harm’s way.
How to get people to notice and sign a petition
When you do sign a petition you should then share it with people in your circle of influence. It’s a really good idea is to privately ask your people to help you out and sign it. Often people won’t bother to do something, unless you personally ask them to help you, and point out why it’s important.
We can’t assume our friends know what we do. We need to let them know why its important to change, stop or start something. We can’t assume that others are up to date with what is going on. If you add a personal explanation to your request for them to sign the petition, your friends are much more likely to come on board, sign and share your petition. Ask them to share it, as well as sign it.
Powerful Petition Sites
Online petition sites are now an alternative to writing letters to businesses or politicians and/or marching in protests. www.change.org also known as The world’s platform for change is one of the largest online petition sites in the world. It has been used by millions of people as well as organizations to make an impact. Right now as at 24.3.2019, a staggering 277,750,834 people are using this site to create change in the world. This petition site has had 33,824 petition victories in 196 countries! (taken from their website as at 24.3.2019). Now tell me that petitions are not worth signing!!
For example this report talks about how change.org was used by Indian women to bring about remarkable social revolutions. Also Masooma Ranalvi, a female genital mutilation survivor started a petition to ban this practice in India and her appeal is now being heard in supreme court. She has also represented hundreds of women before the United Nations.
There are many more such victories that the world’s platform for change refers to. If you’re addressing a widely-accepted cause this platform has the potential to reach highly influential people, and also get media coverage. You can start a petition and find out about the procedure here.
If it’s global change you want, Avaaz.org promotes global activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict. The Guardian considers it “the globe’s largest and most powerful online activist network”. (Wikipedia)
If it’s a local cause you are interested in, try the Petition Site: Start free online petitions for a simple online form that’s easy to create and for others to sign and share. Or get hold of a local counsellor in your area and talk to them about the issue. See if they will get behind you and address your local City or County Council for you. There’s still a place for good old fashioned letter writing to govt TD’s. You will often find they have an online form on their website, where you submit a written request to them to start or stop something. And surprisingly, sometimes this, coupled with telephoning their office by many people, can get things moving. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, so to speak.
Small steps lead to big wins
When we take a small step in the right direction we start to get traction and create more energy for change. On our own we are a small voice but when others join us we can become a force to be reckoned with. Just look at the influence young activist for climate change, Greta Thunburg has made both in the EU parliament and across the world. Millions of schoolkids and adults are now supporting her.This has now become a truly global movement and politicians are starting to take notice.
Step into your power
I encourage you to support causes that matter to you in any way you can. Your own influence is just as important as Greta’s or any other amazing activist.. Until we all step up, and do what we can to create one voice, we avoid our responsibility to address the most important issues of our time. This is the true way to move from despair, worry and hopelessness into your own wonderful personal power.
Katie Kalin is a kinesiologist and performance coach with over 30 years experience working with groups and individuals. She runs a private clinic in Cork City and also does online consultations. Access a free half hour consultation with her through www.katiekalin.com