Millions of Americans, in shock over the terrorist attacks of September 11, are now watching in apprehension as our leaders call for war and the curtailment of our civil rights. What can we do? Let your voice be heard! At the Positive Futures Network, publishers of YES! magazine, we have compiled a list of 10 things you can do. Remember, every time you speak up, you give courage to others to do the same.
1. Reconnect with your spiritual foundation. Let yourself experience your full range of feelings at this time. Reconnect with the spiritual force that animates the best in you. Then let your every action flow from your strength and compassion. The prayers on this site may help.
2. Write or call your congressman and local government officials. Handwritten faxes and letters are the best; phone calls next; emails third in effectiveness. Be succinct. To learn how to contact your U.S. representative go to www.house.gov; to contact your U.S. senators, go to www.senate.gov. Link to sample letter.
3. Write letters to the editor. Bring your own unique experiences to bear to make a simple point. See links on this site for sample letters to the editor.
4. Get on talk shows. Phone into local and national shows-not just NPR, but commercial stations as well, to tell of your own reactions, a relevant incident, what an organization you belong to is doing. You can also add your comments on many websites. Our talking points may help.
5. Gather in groups. Don't let the television paralyze you into passivity. Gather at your place of worship, in your neighborhood, at work, at school to discuss your reactions. Give everyone a chance to speak and affirm the legitimacy of everyone's feelings. Plan actions that contribute to the relief and advocacy efforts of others and develop your own unique activities. This is a great time for singing — an inter-faith celebration of compassion and goodwill can help a lot!
6. Talk to the kids.. Talk to them straight at the level they can absorb and show your compassionate side. Turn off the TV and strictly limit their exposure to the endless images of violence and pain. A terrific book for the 10-15 year old set is Jingoby Terry Pratchett.
7. Sign a petition, join a rally. Numbers count! You may know of others. Sign on to something and join in events that send a big message.
8. Show support for people of color. People who look foreign are especially vulnerable at this time. Go to a Middle Eastern restaurant; talk with people of Arab descent; go to a mosque; join the growing movement to establish “Hate-free zones” in cities and towns across the country (for more information on Hate-Free Zones, see www.globalexchange.org).
9. Learn more. Learn about the Middle East, about responses to international crises, about international law and the appropriate responses to acts of terrorism. See the website of the Institute of Policy Studies (http://www.ips-dc.org). And you can find much more at http://www.alternet.org and http://www.commondreams.org.
10. Take time to play, to laugh, and to enjoy the exquisite gift of life, to let your own soul be a source of goodness in this universe.