In recognition of Amnesty International’s 50th birthday today, I thought it would be a good idea to show everyone how saving the world doesn’t mean having to be the President of the United States, the United Nations Secretary General, or Aung Saan Suu Kyi, but an ordinary individual who wants to make a difference. By wanting to make a difference and actually going out there, you already have the power. When you have power and don’t use it, it is wasted and a waste of the potential you have to make change with it. As the maxim goes, “The only way for evil to succeed is for good men to stand by idly and do nothing”.
So how do I make a difference when it seems like I’m constantly in front of my computer all the time? One of the simplest ways is just to go straight to Amnesty’s website and click on the link that reads “Take Action”. You should be taken to a screen that shows you a list of current events, as well as issues divided by topic and region.
For me, I choose the Asian regions most often, then outside of regions, I follow issues concerning refugees, landmines, rape as an instrument of war, child soldiers, sex slaves, human trafficking, and Prisoners of Conscience (POCs).
A link for each topic you read about should read “Take action now!” which you click on, and usually, you get a letter template you can take as is or edit to personalize it, sign it with your name and e-mail, and hit send. There you go: you’ve just added another voice amongst thousands of people taking the same action, and with strength in numbers from people globally on a letter-writing campaign to politicians, world leaders, and legislators, they do take notice. So all you have done is sent an e-mail, or printed out a letter to sign and mail, which can and will make a difference.
When I first joined in Amnesty in 2004, our group was focused on freeing Rebiya Kadeer, a POC from Xinjiang, China. People told me nothing would change, we would be ignored, and all I’m doing is writing letters. Eventually, she was freed from our persistence–and she visited our group in San Francisco not long after I left for Los Angeles. A couple months ago, I wrote letters about the backlog of rape kits and demanded for justice to be taken (although this was for Human Rights Watch), and lo and behold: I got personal e-mail responses a couple weeks later from Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Just by going to Amnesty International and clicking on “take action” or to the upper right corner that says “get involved” on the Human Rights Watch site makes a difference.
Some may say I’m just feeding my ego. Whether or not that’s true, this is me trying to be informed and take whatever action I can, one that you, anyone, and everyone can all do too. I do believe in a better world, and I’m not going to wish for it without working for it in some way or another.
You don’t have to stop at just sending e-mails to the influential people–you can also use Facebook, Twitter, and your e-mail contact list to share the news of these issues that most people aren’t aware of, even if it’s just your friends and family. They aren’t aware of them until you, the globalist and hero, inform them and tell them they can make a difference. So far, if you do either of these you’re raising awareness, you’re contacting the right people–don’t you feel like you’re making a difference already?
If you’re really feeling generous, you can even donate some money–which is also tax deductible. These are non-profit organizations, and you can request information about how your contribution helps out without filling up the coffers of some executives pretending to be magnanimous and philanthropic.
Time is money, and you can choose to spend five minutes a week reading about a few issues and sharing them with your friends to inform them, or you can take direct action and contact the policy-makers and leaders about the injustice you see. It doesn’t take more than five minutes, and I can guarantee, you’ll feel a lot better knowing that one small action is infinitely better than no action. If you do this, donate, or do both, you will feel better about the world. If a thousand did this, imagine what kind of change they could enact. If everyone did this, then imagine how we could shape the world.
Happy Birthday, Amnesty International!