January 1, 2016
“Millions of people all over the world feed the wild animals in their gardens,” writes Helen Macdonald in a New York Times Magazine article, “On Nature.” The author goes on to tell us about people who have spent years watching badgers, foxes, migratory warblers, and hundreds of other creatures fly or scurry through their backyards or nearby forests, feeling concern and connection to them, especially during cold winters. “Americans spend over $3 billion each year on food for wild birds, ranging from peanuts to specialized seed mixes, suet cakes, hummingbird nectar and freeze-dried mealworms,” Macdonald writes.
I try to live with compassion for all sentient beings, and this article raised a question for me: With so many human beings in America living in poverty — in their September, 2015 issue, the Atlantic Magazine quoted 47 million Americans live below the poverty threshold of earning about $24,000 annually, including 15.5 million children under the age of 18 — what is my responsibility in helping others? Offering $3 billion annually to programs would most likely eradicate the hunger of our country’s children.
I care deeply for the wellbeing of people. For the past 8 years, Do A Little’s mission has been to serve women and girls in the areas of health, education and happiness. Since last year, my attention has been drawn to all people who suffer daily living in poverty. The news of innocent or unjustly sentenced people in jails and prisons, predominantly people of color and women, is the civil rights issue of our time. Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy, gives the statistics of this “discrimination and inequality.” It is a shocking, heartbreaking read, exposing the public policies that affect people’s lives — forever — from a biased, racist infrastructure.
Last night, I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Stevenson speak in my hometown. His message filled me with hope that I can change the narrative that our country has built about people of color, that I can become proximate with those who are unfairly denied justice and work for their rights, that I can support volunteer programs that serve incarcerated people. As Mr. Stevenson said, “We are all broken.”
What has now occurred in my heart and life is a desire to work for the poor, to recognize that the civil rights movement of my youth continues to be the civil rights crisis of today.
Please join with me by doing your little bits of good in our world.
Visit the Equal Justice Initiative’s website: www.eji.org