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What are YOU doing?

November 21, 2016

What do you believe in?

Do you believe in achieving gender equality? In a colorblind justice system? In more schools that empower rather than enforce?

Here’s what I believe: Either you believe in something enough to invest your money, time, and effort to help make it happen, or you don’t really care. If you’re not willing to put yourself where your mouth is, I won’t believe you, because you haven’t given me anything to make me believe you do.

I write a blog to make sure my perspectives have a voice; I donate my time to people starting their own businesses, because I believe in young entrepreneurs; I join organizations and follow causes that align with my views, because I actually give a damn.

Give a damn. Give lots of damns. - Alexis Ohanian, co-founder, Reddit

On the issues and problems I care about, I want my existence to matter beyond my tweets and my Facebook posts that do little more than boost my ego. So I stand behind my words, and I put in my time and my effort to assert that. And this year, I’ll be adding a couple more items to that list of causes and work-to-be-done’s.

The smoking gun of the elections is fading out, and so is the outpouring of support I saw that night. But just because the campaigns have stopped doesn’t mean the issues have been resolved -- far from it. So to remind myself that these issues still matter, that these people forgotten by the mass media still exist, and still deserve better, I’m doing a few things to take action.

First, I’ve set up monthly, recurring donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, because those are organizations that work for the causes that I feel were most greatly affected in the election cycle. You’re free to choose your own, but if you have some money to spare, recurring donations are something to consider.

Second, I’ll be trying my best to get more involved in local government and organizations where I want my work to count. I’ll be reaching out for volunteer opportunities in education, for example, because that’s one area I’m passionate about, and I’ll be able to learn more about the work left ahead while contributing something to the community. Finding these opportunities aren’t difficult. Ask your friends; ask your parents; Google around. Ignorance is never a valid excuse for inaction. Don’t make the invisibility of problems a reason to ignore them.

Third, most of my writing reach about the same group of people each time. You, who are reading this post, have also probably read some of my other posts before, and also probably have followed me on other social networks. So while I write a lot about my views and about issues in my writing, most of them swirl around in the small water cooler conversations between my friends. So I’ll be looking outside of those groups to make a more diverse audience, and I’ll also be trying to read stories from across the spectrum in the same way. (If you’re up for some conversations, by the way, I’m always open to respectful discussions.)

Fourth, I love to build things -- apps, websites, potentially companies in the next year. In building them, I want to have a renewed awareness of the effects that my projects have on people’s lives outside of the marketed purpose. I want to make things that aren’t just attractive or productive, but that are good. And I want to approach it as a core criterion of my work, not just a bonus. There are already a few in the works, and I hope you’ll see them, and more, in 2017.

Lastly, I don’t want to forget how I felt the night of November 8th. I want to keep reminding myself that this — people who live in question of whether they are worthy of their existence and of their country -- is not normal. If there is a single person who doesn’t feel that their life makes the world a little more beautiful, for that one person, I want to keep working.

Every life, every single life, matters equally and infinitely. - Dave Isay

No matter what you do for a living, no matter what you write or build or make or craft, your work or your studies touch someone’s life somewhere in its timeline. And while the job of a business is to generate profit, the job of a creator is to touch people’s lives, and to empower them to do the same. This year, I am reminded of that every day. I strive to live up to it, and I challenge you to do the same.