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May-11-2011 09:48printcomments

But What Can I Do?

There are a number of things we can all do depending on our individual skills, abilities, and financial strength.

(HARRISVILLE, N.H.) - We sit and watch the daily events on network news and most of us feel bad that the rest of the world cannot enjoy the blessings we take for granite. Blessings like seeing our children fall asleep surrounded by peace and tranquility ... like knowing a healthy breakfast will be ready for them when they awaken... like knowing that they will have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We feel bad that the comforts we enjoy cannot be enjoyed by so many in the rest of the world.

Comforts like enough nourishment to sustain life, immunization against the worst diseases, warm shelter against the cold, clean water to drink, and warm clothes to hide our nakedness. The end result of watching the suffering that makes-up too much of the daily events covered by the network news is a single thought that runs through our minds before we turn the TV off.

A thought that asks a simple question: “But what can I do?”

There are a number of things we can all do depending on our individual skills, abilities, and financial strength. Let’s run through some of those things now:

(1)   Let those in power know how you feel. As a nation of some 311+ million people, we can and should be able to sway the thinking and actions of those warming the seats in Congress and in the White House. What do you think would happen if Congress and the White House received even 3.11 million letters in one day, condemning their support of any of the oppressive regimes they currently support? Now that is only 1% of our population folks. If that occurrence were to happen every day for a week, every reporter in the world would have to sit-up and take notice . . . if only to discover how our leadership was going to rationalize their continued focus on courting re-election contributions. E-Mail is great but an actual hard-copy letter is a more physical representation of our thoughts. It can be seen by all, must be physically moved from sender to recipient, weights something, and takes up space . . . the bottom line is that it cannot be deleted and ignored so easily. If the postal service had to move 3.11 million letters to the White House every day for a week, it would create one of those daily events we watch on network news every night. It would be tough for even the most self-centered of our politicians to ignore.

(2)   Charity does not have to hurt. We have one of the most affluent populations in the world. I find it hard to believe that at least 1% of our population cannot afford to set a dollar a day aside to help the less fortunate people of the world. Think about it. That is probably less than the price of a newspaper in many cities. It is less than the price of a single cup of coffee almost everywhere. That dollar can assure that one child did not go to bed hungry. If even 1% of our population contributed a dollar a day, 3.11 million less children in the world would not go to bed hungry. The next time you visit Starbucks, think about that. Doing with one less cup of coffee a day would not place most U.S. citizens in harms way . . . certainly 1% of our population could afford to contribute a dollar a day to help feed the less fortunate children of the world!

(3)   Write letters to the editors of your local papers. Letters published by most local papers reach thousands of readers and stimulate feelings among those readers. Your letter can “Get them thinking” and help eliminate the mental inertia that plagues so much of our population. Your letters can help garner support for change, support for right, support for sharing, and support for caring. Feeling that we should help those less fortunate than us is nothing to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary folks . . . it is something to be proud of. The more of us that let our friends and neighbors know how we really feel, the greater the likelihood that change will happen.

(4)   Change your mindset. Until we recognize the fact that we are all brothers and sisters, evil, hunger, and sickness will continue. That Pakistani child having nightmares about Israeli bombs is part of the human family. The little child in Africa who goes to bed hungry is certainly deserving of love, compassion, and human kindness. Would you not comfort and help the baby in Southeast Asia who suffers needlessly from chronic diarrhea resulting from unclean water? Every mother and father wants a better life for their children regardless of where they live. A parent in Iraq suffers the same staggering blow we would feel if we had to bury our child. Because someone’s skin color, religion, or country of origin is different than ours does not make them less human, less worthy, or less a member of the family of man.

(5)   Organize for good. Groups always have a more powerful influence than individuals. This is especially true in Washington, D.C. because groups represent blocks of votes. When enough groups or large enough groups get angry, even the mightiest of politicians can fall. Just look at the Republican, the Democratic, and the Tea parties. Look at the labor unions, the black caucus, and the various Latino groups. Why do you think the politicians all turn themselves inside-out trying to give the impression that they really care about these groups. It certainly isn’t because they really do care. It is because blocks of votes can sway elections and if there is one thing politicians care about, it is continuing their ride on the government gravy train.

The first step is to act. Pick one, two, or all of the above listed suggestions to act upon but DO IT! Now that I have listed a number of avenues, Stop asking “But what can I do?”... put your feet and brain into gear and travel one or more of those avenues I have listed. Embrace your brothers and sisters of the world as we are all part of the same family. Well-meaning thoughts are nice; however, well-meaning actions are better... but, that is just my opinion!

Writer Robert Collinsworth is an American who isn't hesitant to talk about the good side of his country, and that is a welcome thing in this day and age. admittedly, is very critical of both American politics, as well as those of other nations that we perceive is being wrong in their motives and actions. At the same time, within these structures we criticize, are many outstanding people who make each day a better place for all those around them. They embody and personify the American spirit that is sometimes fleeting, but always present. These are some of the things Robert takes into account when writing commentary that is designed reach people, to "get them thinking" in his words, and indeed it does.'s goal is for all people to be on the same page, we appreciate Bob's more conservative approach toward that same goal."

You can write to Bob Collingsworth at this email address:

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Bob Collinsworth May 11, 2011 1:35 pm (Pacific time)

Janet: Thank you for your comment. You are so right with your comments. Edmund Burke is credited with saying "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing". I believe the corruption we see in Washington today is living proof that statement is true. If even half of thee money spent on political campaigns in the U.S. were spent on feeding the hungry of the world, many more children might go to sleep smiling rather than crying. It is almost as if our government hired the guy who dreamed-up "New Coke" to set priorities for Washington. Bob

Janet Phelan May 11, 2011 11:05 am (Pacific time)

Thank you for reminding us that, even in the midst of all this uproar, we do-- each and everyone of us--have power. I find the power to say "No" to be something that people need to be reminded of. The power to say "No" to corruption is also the power to affirm decency. All the corruption swirling around us now could not take place without complicity by ordinary citizens. We can all recognize and affirm our moral outrage and refuse to participate, in many different ways.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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