How You Can Save The World Without Leaving Your CouchSimone Reyes

Hey! The world and all of its inhabatants are in deep trouble but never fear… I’m here, as promised, to be your resident activist chick and I will help guide you to Superhero status. Together we will help heal the world- and for all of you um, “relaxed” types I’ve decided to suggest that you can do this all from the comforts of your living room. How cool is that?

Last week I promised to provide you lovelies with the tools you need to become activists. So I figure let’s start with the lazy crew. Please don’t be offended by the word “lazy”- not everyone wants to spend their free time marching and yelling into megaphones.  I dig that stuff but it’s not for everyone. Some of us like to occupy, some of us like to occupy the couch. Hey, there is place for all kinds of activism. What there is NO room for is complaining and not doing anything about the ills of the world.

So let’s start at the REALLY grass roots level first for those of you who prefer to stay in the recline position of your lazy boy. This blog is for you, that is, until I get you motivated to work that body for a cause. Personally, I think protesting is better than therapy- a positive, (typically legal- but not always) outlet to release all of my pent up anger at the system and powers that be in the name of good. However don’t get me wrong, I can lay back on my chaise w/ a bag of vegan tofutti cuties and zone out to bad reality TV with the best of them. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to take your bad self out onto the streets, especially when it’s cold outside. Starting a revolution is exhausting! Just ask my feet! Fortunately, all you need is your laptop or a pen, paper and a stamp. So LETS GO!

First you will need to choose your enemy. If you need some suggestions please allow me to put start a fire in your conscious.

How about gay marriage? If you have a girlfriend and love her shouldn’t you be allowed to marry her? Well, as of May 10, 2012 gay marriage has been legalized in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York (Yay! I’m a proud Native New Yorker myself), Washington, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Where do you live? If it’s within the 31 states that are denying you or your friends/family the rights that you believe they should be granted your voice could help! Or maybe your cause is smaller but something you find yourself obsessing over. Perhaps you are just sick and tired of finding pennies in your purse that seem to stay there forever never getting used and find yourself thinking , “it costs 1.7 cents to mint a single penny and they suck”. Well, guess what there are probably tons of people who feel exactly the same way. So, why not do something about it with your pen and a licked stamp?

You may be the reason pennies go out of business. Who knows? Maybe you love and respect animals as I do and live in say, Alabama – one of the only ten states that still makes cockfighting a misdemeanor penalty. Surely you have seen images of bleeding, dead birds and think to yourself, whomever is doing this should be punished severely. Well, in Alabama the punishment is a mere $50 and the perpetrators are then free to go. If this gets your gander then do something about it! Or maybe you REALLY REALLY REALLY love animals as I do (any vegans out there? Holla!) and are disgusted and angry that even though more than 168 million chickens and approx 9 billion broiler chickens are killed for food per year in the USA, the Humane Slaughter Act only covers cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, and swine leaving the poor innocent poultry to endure running them through a death process where they can be dunked into an electrically charged bath of water to immobilize them, have their throats slit, de-feathered and skinned alive all often while they are STILL ALIVE.

Is that ok with you? It sure as heck isn’t ok by me which is why I’m an animal rights activist who fights this kind of cruelty every day. I know I have used my voice to help but while animals are dying I also know we have SO much more to do. Or maybe in school you were one of the awkward ones..the ones that never got picked for basketball, asked to the dance, made fun of because of your (now recognized and celebrated) individuality or worse and feel a need to protect other kids from feeling afraid to go to school.Well, if you live in Michigan, Montana or South Dakota those folks need you to join their fight because they don’t have bullying prevention laws there and Lord knows, every state needs them. Or maybe you want to know exactly what you are eating and feeding to your family.  Right now, you could be eating a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) that was born in a laboratory – not an organic farm and unless labeling laws get passed you will never know. Maybe this will prompt you into taking action.

I could go on and on and on about my own personal gripes about the state of the world. There are so many reasons we need to get involved in positive change both here and abroad. Everyone has their passion. Everyone cares about SOMETHING.  So feel blessed and grateful you can DO something about it. Remember if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. So, stop complaining over lunch with the gals and be an instrument of peace.  Here are some ideas to get you started (and yes, as promised, you can remain vertical while doing these things, just put your iPad on your lap and get those fingers typing).

1.Set Your Intention. Be clear on what you want and believe that change for the highest good WILL happen. Once you have found your passion don’t ever let anyone deny it.  The road to change is often rocky but boy oh boy when you reach the top of that mountain and know that your actions have helped do something good for someone else (or the Earth or a stranger or an animal or yourself) you will literally feel like you are on top of the world.  You are powerful goddesses. Never forget that. Ever. 

2. Find Like- Minded Peeps: Google is your friend.  Chances are if you are pissed off about something you are far from the only one.  Link up with others who share your viewpoints.  You can find them on websites that discuss your issue, whatever it may be. Start with yahoo groups, message boards, meet-ups etc. If you can’t find what you are looking for then why not start a group of your own? If it’s an issue that affects your children speak to other parents. If it affects animals, chat up your dog run friends, vet, local spca, Peta, etc. Do your research.   You will need it to plead your case.  Chances are there is already research on how changing or passing a law will help those in need of this law.

3. Know What’s Up : Go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php – it is an invaluable resource maintained by the Library of Congress. It provides legislative information to the public where you can see if your gripe is already included in a bill.  You can look up any bill and check on its status and sponsors.  It will also link you to the House of Representatives and the Senate. 

4. Get to Know Your Gov’t Peeps: The quickest, easiest way to find out who your legislators are is to visit www.vote-smart.org  And don’t stop there! Look up the names of every elected official representing your area in addition to your State Representative and State Senator. Be specific about what your issue is, what you want your elected official to understand about it and be clear on what law you want passed/repealed/etc.

5. Reach Out and Touch(kinda): Send postcards to your elected officials. Now remember, a generic postcard campaign that you may find online is great but its better to personalize it with an email or a heartfelt letter.   Its takes a lot to get on a policy makers radar and the more personal the better. But remain professional- meaning no Hello Kitty stickers on this correspondence please. It may seem that snail mail is outdated but not when it comes to being heard- trust. Or phone a friend in high places. Ok, the legislator may be a complete stranger but pick up your smartphone and do something smart with it. Flirt/socialize/become a BFF with their office staff, hey we want them on our side too and maybe they have a jar full of pennies that are making them just as nuts as you are. They are close to the elected officials so never overlook who has their ear. Or if you know for sure you will never make it over to the post office or mail box then send an email. Letters are preferred but I will take what I can get from you gals at this point (smile).

6. Let Them See Your Pretty Face: Gather your girls together and get the courage up to ask for a personal meeting with your legislator.  Hey its an opportunity to finally wear that killer suit you just bought.  And when you are there listen to what your elected official is saying. Its rude to hog the spotlight. But you have done your research by this point so don’t be a wallflower either.  Know your facts and present your case. oh and remember you want to win for your cause so a smile never hurts!

7. VOTE. Nuff said! if there are bills waiting to be passed go and VOTE on them for goodness sakes!

Well, I hope that is enough to get you started.  Next week we will tackle the more outrageous ways to get lawmakers attention by using the media (for me that is my favorite way..anybody see the episode on “Running Russell Simmons where I got naked in Times Square to protest meat with Peta? Ok, more on that next time) but for now you have some homework to do. 

I can’t wait to hear what your pet peeves are and the steps you are going to take to remove yourself from the victim role to the warrior princesses I know you were all born to be.  Hurry up now..people are struggling, animals are suffering and pennies are overtaking my new vegan Stella McCartney purse…HELP! Onward, girls onward….  

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  1. I’m trying this already, I sent a letter to my school about how we should have days about accepting people differences and being more understanding towards one another. We have citizenship days where we learn about helping in society and yet never learn about learning disabilities or social differences, which i think is ridiculous. This is because my autistic brother got bullied for being ‘weird’. I hope it makes a difference but felt empowered that my small gesture could potentially stop some bullying by encouraging my school to do something to prevent it. Thanks for inspiring me to do this on a bigger scale and to try and make a difference!