Here on By the People, we’ve written about civic activism on causes as local as disposable food trays and as global as climate change. We’ve examined events as recent as the health care debate, and as historic as the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.
This got me thinking about what inspires people to take up a cause. The January 12 earthquake in Haiti, for example, has motivated people all around the world to find ways to help survivors. Some people – including former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – are organizing fundraisers, while others are participating more directly through groups such as Mercy Corps or urban search-and-rescue teams. Others’ efforts are more limited, such as donating money to the Red Cross via text message, but just as important.
I am impressed by all the people uniting to help the earthquake survivors in Haiti. But I am equally impressed by those who work for causes all year round. I have friends who organize rallies to raise awareness of gender-based violence, and others who regularly donate blood for local hospitals. I have friends who rescue animals, and some who run marathons to raise funds for cancer research (I’d collapse after the first mile).
As I have asked before, what moves people from merely being aware of a problem to doing something constructive about it? Maybe people want to help, but what do they need to take that final step to action?