Written by Kathryn Hoffman
Food Stamp Outreach Coordinator, Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania
Does acting from your values to change or improve something — or right a wrong…WORK? Every one of us at some point wonders that. Time is precious, and jobs, kids, relationships, cooking, cleaning, living — takes up most of our time on this earth. Here are some cases where taking action has brought about some real changes in 2015. These actions were initiated not by some agency, some rich or powerful person or persons, but by regular types like us.
However, despite the fact that they are regular people, the changes these people initiated turned into movements that have echoed into this year, and beyond. Kudos– congrats,– ‘props’ to the people in our midst who took the chance to speak up and act on something they cared about!
Here are several examples “ripped from the headlines”:
1.Black Lives Matter—need I say more? The killing of mostly black and Latino, mostly young, men and women, has happened without headlines for decades in the U.S. At traffic stops , in the street, during a confrontation where whites normally don’t wind up dead, so many people of color do. Young people started it, Occupy gave it voice then all across the nation, people reacted to Trayvon, Sean, Michael, Freddie, Walter, Tamir , Laquan, Sandra, Rekia, Betty, and all the rest whose lives ended– due to racism, incompetence, assumptions of impunity.
2.Inequality and the Movement for Raising Wages. The AFL-CIO, whose unions and affiliated groups represent 12.5 million U.S. workers, reported last week that “over the last year, income inequality has shifted from a problem we discuss, to a problem we can solve.” The majority of states now have either raised their minimum wages higher than the Federal minimum of $7.25 or have bills in play to do so. And cities and whole industries, fast food and city workers, businesses like Sheetz and Wa-Wa, have raised their minimums, even over $10.10/hr. (Even Walmart just announced they are raising their hourly pay). We are still struggling to raise the minimum in PA. Related to this is the movement to make corporations pay their fair share in taxes—instead of ‘off-shoring’ their profits to some island so we can’t fund our schools and roads and bridges adequately—This struggle too, is gaining momentum because so many of us said yes they should, and are backing candidates who back this.
3.Leaving the planet in some kind of livable shape for our children and theirs: Youths as young as 12 have begun a movement to sue the fossil fuel companies, asking them to stop polluting the planet that youth will inherit, to leave off the burning of coal, oil and gas and switch to renewables for the sake of their own lives, and those of the generations that come after them. And courts have given these young people standing to sue, and are hearing their cases in several states.
So, does raising your voice sometimes, speaking up for someone, or joining a group to speak together, demonstrating, or calling a legislator, news outlet, or city hall—matter?