This is a shout out to all of the volunteers in the world. I’m so glad to have so many of my friends in as well as outside of my church home with volunteer’s hearts. I have met THE most phenomenal, hard-working, and caring people. I have come to realize over the many years that you’re either in it for the love of what you are doing and the cause or outcome, or you probably won’t last very long. I have volunteered in many different ways my whole life, and honestly can’t imagine not doing it.
Social media being so prevalent, I have noticed on different posts some comments that suggest volunteers must not have anything better to do, or that we’re lazy (which doesn’t even make sense), that we’re wasting our time because we don’t get paid for it, or how we probably don’t even have jobs. (I see that last one especially when it is a protest for some kind of social justice issue for better or more human rights.) For what it’s worth, many — but probably most — volunteers have jobs, and still find time to make the world a better place and take care of issues that they love and are meaningful.
I have heard the aggravation or judgement in the voices of non-volunteers (or reluctant volunteers) with the amount of time that might be spent volunteering and not getting paid for work done. I am sure that every volunteer would love to get paid something if that was even a possibility, but that generally isn’t the case, nor is it the reason for volunteering.
Speaking of getting paid, volunteering is also not like being an employee either, and you cannot treat volunteers like employees — even though sometimes expected outcomes may be similar to that of an employee. The investment is quite different though. There is sometimes great joy in volunteering, sometimes even great sadness, sometimes frustration. Regardless, it is food for the soul and it’s not just the volunteer’s soul that I’m talking about. That is the payment that some can’t understand.
Volunteers often go unnoticed, unrecognized, and even under or unappreciated — not always of course, but it does happen. Volunteers will usually volunteer right through that anyway. Many volunteers are happy being unnoticed even. There is a fine line there, however. If that is the consistent or perpetual case, volunteers will start to dwindle and this is where a lead organizer or organization may wonder why they are having a hard time keeping consistent volunteers. I have even heard on occasion the volunteers themselves being blamed for the lack of volunteers. But I know this opinion is a lack of insight in most cases. Just like any other organizing or management, when you cannot seem to keep a position filled, then it is time to look within, NOT over there somewhere, and examine honestly what is going on.
If I were to give any advice at all on being a volunteer, it would be about two things.1: Don’t allow other people to steal your joy of volunteering. Some people just cannot understand it, but maybe it is just not for them to understand. Whatever you do, and for whatever reason you do it, if it is your joy to be in service, remember that no one has the right to steal your joy of it. The world needs you. Community needs you. 2: To be a volunteer does not require inordinate amounts of time. Not everyone has countless hours to offer or even the energy. You must know that even if all you have is one hour per month, or week, or anything at all that it absolutely makes a difference. So don’t be afraid or reluctant to volunteer if you can’t do it on a regular basis or if you only have a small amount of time to donate. It ALL contributes!
The last thing I want to shed a little light on is that volunteering is a form of activism. A lot of people don’t realize that. But volunteers address needs and shed light on them, they organize around them and cause and get into action.
Find your cause. Share some time. Something you care about needs you.
I was remembering a suggestion someone made, tongue-in-cheek, about how politicians should wear suits or jackets like professional auto racers wear. You know the ones that have patches and graphics all over them showing who their sponsors are? I wish we would do that. It will never happen though. They don’t really want us to easily identify, or in some cases ever identify who donates to their campaigns because then we would really see what is behind their masks and who they really serve. But then that had me thinking a little further — about all of us. What if there were specific characteristics that showed the world who we are, what we are like as soon as anyone laid eyes on us — characteristics that couldn’t be changed? We already have issues with making assumptions based on skin, national origin, sex, etc. But what if naturally blue hair meant you hit your wife? What if checkered grey and green skin meant you were a cheater? What if lavender lips meant you were chronically mean? What if hair that grew straight up front, but tight and curly in the back showed that someone was a narcissist? Or what if whatever clothes we put on for the day and our bodies just instantly became tagged with these clues? What would that be like? Would that cause us to be kinder, to be quicker to care about how our actions affected others? The possibilities are endless… but I’ll bet a lot of us are glad this is just a daydream from a walk.
So I wrote the post (pictured above) after news of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. This is on the heels of a mass shooting in Georgia. I wrote it right before I went to bed, and I was feeling just done with the madness. Well, if you are a thinker or a writer, as usually happens, once I laid down in the quiet, the thoughts flooded in.
A little more on this….
Everything I said in that post is 100 percent how I feel. They’re my thoughts. My wish is that I knew what to do about it, knew how to effect actual, lasting change, but my belief is that it’s not a gun problem, but a heart and soul condition. (Shameless plug: I think I have a blog post about that somewhere.) I used to think that we just need to ban every single kind of firearm, but my thoughts on that have slowly, continually evolved. I still wish we lived in a world where they didn’t exist, never existed at all, but I can wish that until the cows come home and it won’t change a single thing. So….
Learn better; do better.Thoughts evolve, and that’s okay.
My thoughts on gun control are evolving as over the years I have come to understand and see how these types of laws can affect communities that aren’t White, and communities that sit in the lower income brackets. This is true of so many of our laws and beliefs. I believe in our 2nd Amendment as I understand it (not in the fear-based, bastardized version so many self-appointed “patriots” vomit out), but I don’t believe just anyone deserves to own a firearm either. So what are the correct parameters? I doubt we’ll ever find agreement on this either.
The Black Panthers showed up and we clutched our pearls.
Remember that time in 1967 when the Black Panthers showed up on the steps of the California State Capitol and then-Governor Reagan (R) and his NRA cronies decided we needed gun control laws right away? Well, I don’t remember because I was barely 3 years old, but it’s not hard information to find. But yes, the NRA wanted gun control laws after that incident! (If you never stopped to wonder “why,” here’s your chance.) What I do vividly remember many times is White men and women parading, storming, and protesting at various state capitol buildings, other federal buildings and lands armed to the freaking gills. What I also remember about those incidents is the government, the twisted NRA, and many so-called patriots saying NOTHING and doing NOTHING about it. Essentially, what I’ve seen is blatant inequality, and the silence I hear is actually an action, a stand.
So there I was with a pretty strong thought about guns and owners, heels dug in, rock solid sentiments. The problem is it centers my own personal fears and knee-jerk reactions rather than the whole picture. It leaves out the welfare of a whole lot of people. Is this the crossroads or a complete shift? I guess I’m not totally sure yet, but I know it is different, and I know that if my thoughts or actions contribute to hurting another group through inequality or inequity, then that’s a clue that some shift needs to happen. It’s a clue tapping at me letting me know that something is unbalanced, unfair, and requires more thought. I have always chosen to be a scout rather than a follower — someone who continually seeks out a higher consciousness and willing to change direction when or where I see I can do better. I’m not afraid to find out I’m wrong. I’m not afraid to change. I’m not afraid to realize my thoughts may have been imitated without thought and it’s okay to change direction. All of that might piss off some folks, but that isn’t always what’s most important. So I adjust, transform, or switch directions.
So here I am with little direction, nagging thoughts, armed with a scout mentality.
I’m going to stay in this inquiry until I have a solid direction. It’s important to me that the footprint I leave on others isn’t one on their backs. It’s important to me that my activism supports our Black and Brown communities in equality. It’s important to me to self-examine regularly and make sure I’m in alignment with what I say I want in the world, and that I’m not aligned out of fear. I’m going to have a conversation with a friend of mine whose ideas have also changed around gun ownership, whose ideas were much like mine and have also evolved quite a bit over the past year or so. I was invited to go to a shooting range event by that friend, and my husband and I are going to attend. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never shot a gun in my life, and they’ve always scared me. I have no clue what I might learn, who I might get to talk to, but I’m open to it all because personal evolution is calling. I’ll blog about my experiences and thoughts.
I’m celebrating double 5’s this year! Spiritually speaking, this is quite an opportunity! Number 5 symbolizes God’s goodness, grace, and kindness, and I’ve got double, so I’m anticipating great things! I’m fortunate to not be in need for much these days, especially tangibles, but I remember well what it’s like to be in need and the constant worry. And as the saying goes, “There but for the grace of God go I.” So in gratitude and from my heart, I try to give to our underserved and homeless communities when I can, and however I am moved to. This year I am moved to increase Unity of Sacramento’s ability to provide through their Winter Sanctuary. I hope you will help me give them a little bump ahead of the doors opening. Believe me when I tell you that every little bit counts. Thank you in advance for anything that you can donate, and I would love it if you would also share this. 🥳 🙌🏻 ✌🏻 ❤
For my birthday this year, I’m asking for donations to Unity of Sacramento’s Winter Sanctuary. If you’ve known me for a while, you know that each year I do some sort of charitable drive for our homeless population. I’ve chosen this nonprofit because their mission means a lot to me, they do a FABULOUS job and huge effort, and I hope you’ll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me. Every little bit will help me reach my goal.
Each winter, Unity of Sacramento opens its doors for our homeless outreach campaign. We provide a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, and a breakfast-to-go in the morning. Prayer support is always available. Our congregation has been so generous in helping with donations of not only money, but necessities such as toiletries, socks, mittens, clothing, and many other gifts of love. And just like anything else, the more donations we receive, the more assistance we are able to pour out and into our homeless brothers and sisters.
Please help me reach my goal or even surpass it this year! Not only is it tax deductible, but it is a bonus for your spirit! PLUS… it makes me SUPER happy! 🙂
Centrist ideals and actions, passivism, and just plain refusing to see (cognitive dissonance) are killing this planet. Essentially, it is killing us. You may have the urge to blame it on those that are obviously being destructive, or obviously protesting that climate change is even real. But every time you make up an excuse for our government officials and political groups ignoring the issue of climate change, you are aiding and abetting those that intentionally have ill will for this planet as evidenced by their desires for personal gain over a survivable planet. And when you think about it, you have personal gain issues, too. Yes. “We have more important issues at hand,” has been said to me. I wonder what that could be? I’ll tell you what it is, and it’s not what you think. It’s your fear – your irrational fear that Trump is the biggest thing we have to defeat – over anything and everything else. F.E.A.R. I don’t know about you, but most people don’t operate in their best thinking when they are coming from fear. We’re all afraid, but we shouldn’t let our fear have us operate from the inability to move out from in front of our noses, unable to see the bigger picture.
Right now the Amazon Rain Forest is burning at phenomenally faster rates than have EVER been known! Some of this is on purpose – for monetary gain. How disgusting! Climate change is killing it as well. We laugh, scoff and wag our fingers at climate change deniers… but how is waiting around for a better time to do something about it any better? In my opinion, that’s even WORSE, because we know better.
I am in an ongoing fight and struggle for equality for all persons on this planet, as many of you may be. If you know me, or have read many of the things I write, this is likely not news to you. Off the top of my head right now, I can’t think of anything more important to me than seeing a world that works for all. Full disclosure is, I selfishly do this because ultimately that’s the world I want for my grandchildren. I’m probably not going to see it. Maybe, but probably not. That’s OK. That’s the bigger picture. It doesn’t mean I’m ignoring the louder, more current concerns or that I’m not afraid. But the bigger picture speaks louder to me than the current, temporary ones. Does that mean that I/we ignore the current madhouse? No, not at all. What it means is that we should not put all our eggs in the basket of fearing the current madhouse. There has to be a balance. But if we’re reacting now without any regard for later, that is a God-awful strategy for our future. If your child is crying because he has a wet and soiled diaper and he’s hungry, but you just realized you’re out of diapersandformula, are you going to run out and get diapers to avoid the current mess, but wait on the formula because it’s less pressing at this moment? Or do they both require your full attention?
This is where we are. Mother Earth is SCREAMING for help, but many of us can’t seem to focus our energy on anything other than the mess in front of us. It’s urgent, yes, but there’s something bigger and also urgent that is starving for our attention as well. And if we don’t take care of it, there won’t be one single reason for any of the rest of it. The thing about starvation is, once it’s noticeable, there’s very little time to correct it, if at all. And even once it’s corrected, there may be lasting, irreversible damage to the point that saving it is in reality only slowing down the inevitable.
This is not about how much or little you might be doing for a better world. This is not about making the important work any of us are doing now suddenly worthless. IT’S ALL IMPORTANT. IT’S ALL NEEDED, ALL NECESSARY. But operating out of fear to the degree that we let ourselves be led by the nose, to ignore the underhandedness of those that we allow to represent us is going to be our end. And we do this for the short-term goal out of fear. Fear has us blind. Fear has us deaf. Fear has us cutting ourselves short. It’s sad. It’s maddening watching some of those that I love, appreciate, and think so highly of, and know without a doubt to be otherwise intelligent folks give it all up for the moment.
If you think we have bigger fish to fry than climate change, or that it can wait until after the next election, you clearly need the oxygen that we are currently running out of. This is dire. If you actually think the DNC or GOP has your best interests at heart, you MUST be suffering from hypoxia and can’t think straight. Wake up… while you still can. How is it that you can look the other way while they make up their own rules and decisions, mostly ignoring what the voters want, bowing to them out of fear instead of standing up to them and being fearless. Last election, and it looks like the upcoming one as well, so many people wanted to blame people like me for a sub-par candidate losing the election. You should be blaming yourselves and the DNC who led you by the nose KNOWING BETTER. Many of us tried to tell you, and you ridiculed and laughed at us. We’re telling you again, and you’re still laughing.
I wish I could say that “I told you so” tasted sweet, but I have to wade in the bitter poison right along with you.
Your social justice and equality issues also do not take a bigger stage than climate change. Again, these issues are not less important, but to be perfectly clear, they won’t be an issue at all if we keep ignoring climate change or putting it off until ____________. If you care so much about social dynamics and the struggles that are going on right now in our communities of color and our underserved communities, then you absolutely SHOULD be thinking about climate change. Why? If you have your community activism hat already in any arena involving those communities, then I already know you are aware of how they get hit the hardest, the fastest, and the longest when anything bad comes down the pipeline. They also take the longest to recover – if ever. Sometimes it’s actually by design, sadly, and sometimes it’s because of positioning. Here are just a few examples: housing crisis, redlining, gerrymandering, poverty, bank bailouts, war on drugs, high cost of pharmaceuticals, disparities in healthcare, inflation, etc. DO YOU THINK FOR ONE SECOND THAT AS OUR CLIMATE AND EARTH DETERIORATE THAT THESE COMMUNITIES WON’T SUFFER HARDER, FASTER, AND LONGER THAN OTHERS – THAT SOMEHOW THEY’LL ESCAPE THE USUAL ROLL CALL FOR THIS? Like I said, if you already have your community activism hat on, it shouldn’t be hard for you to see how this will go. All our work will be for not if we refuse to address our climate issues NOW – not after the election; not after… anything else. NOW.
Look, I am also guilty of waiting to fully address climate change, and not being willing to realize that if our world deteriorates, there is no point at all to anything else that I work for, strive for, pour my heart and soul out into. My selfish reasons for the other activism work that I do has to be, and is, the same for climate change. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a world that their Gram helped make better and survives for them. I don’t want them to suffer from the effects of racism, classism, bigotry, hunger, violence, xenophobia… and I most certainly don’t want them to suffer because they can’t breathe or the little food that’s left or the water is poisoning them. As a bonus, I would also like to live out the rest of my life on a planet that is being loved and nurtured, knowing it’s going to be a safe place for my Milani Jhené and Joshua Rey, and whichever beautiful grandbabies that might come next.