Earning a Soapbox

I’m sure that most people reading this post have an account on facebook.  I’m sure that most of you have also seen something like this posted at some point during your time on facebook:


I can’t really comment on this because I realize that foreign policy and immigration are things that I just don’t understand at the political level.  From a human perspective I can relate to all of these statements and I feel sympathetic.  I am well aware of the homelessness issue in my country (by the way, this image originated in Australia).  I am certainly aware of how expensive it can be to get the proper medications even when you live in a country with universal health care.  My Son has type 1 diabetes and the costs after the portion the government pays for is around $1500 per year.  That’s considerably cheap compared to what other people have to pay for their necessary medication.  I can understand all of these things and I can’t necessarily disagree that we have a lot of problems in this world.  What I can’t understand is how people can be so brave to post this on facebook or pound their fist in the coffee shop complaining about how we need to change these things.  OK, maybe brave isn’t the right word but I’m reluctant to use the word lazy.

Folks, I think that everyone has a right to their own soapbox to stand on and talk about issues like these but I firmly believe that you have to earn your soapbox.  I have to wonder, of all the people who “had the guts” to post this, did any of them have the guts to volunteer time at a homeless shelter or even take a homeless person out of the cold and buy them a coffee or even a meal?  Have any of them organized a fund raiser to help elderly folks pay for medications?  Have any of them also complained about having to pay taxes that are used to fund the troops and ensure that they have proper equipment and benefits?  Have any of them spoken to an immigrant to understand why they came to our country and what issues they might be facing?  For all of the problems we have in our own country we are comparatively well off and I think I would feel horrible if we told the poorer nations that there is nothing we can do to help especially knowing that we depend on the well being of every nation for our continued prosperity.

I am far from being the most socially conscious person but I have adjusted my work schedule to free up time to volunteer in my own community.  I have become friends with a number of immigrant folks and I am so thankful that I have never had to live through some of the horror they have seen.  I admire their bravery in leaving their lives behind to ensure the safety of their children and I am thankful that my country has been able to offer them some safety although, with anti-immigrant attitudes I can’t say that we have been comforting.  Even with the little bit that I have done there are people out there who do far more than I could ever do.  At the same time, there are people who will complain about all of these issues and then complain that nobody is doing anything about it.

We all have a responsibility to one another on a global scale.  We have to stop thinking about our own little bubble and think about the world around us.  We can’t let ourselves be satisfied with re-posting an image on facebook and thinking that we’ve done some brave deed that is going to help change the world.  We need to roll up our sleeves and give something of ourselves to our communities.  I live in a province of 1 million people… very small.  If everyone in this province made the commitment to dedicate one hour of each week to giving something back to their community we would contribute 52 million hours per year to improving our province.  That is the equivalent of adding 32,000 full time jobs dedicated to improving our province.  The government can never do something that huge.  We have the power to do it and we have the power to make a difference.  The questions is, are we brave enough to sacrafice one hour per week to change the world for the better?

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