a is for apathy (and a pole-dancing b*tch)

10 Jul

today is a big day, y’all!  okay, it’s not a “secure-a-divorce-and-custody-settlement-from-tom-cruise” kinda big day…but i do have a job interview with a cool little non-profit.  if i get the job, i’ll be working with my angeleno peeps in some tough hoods to help improve their health and nutrition.  while i’m super stoked about this potential opportunity, i REALLY hope they don’t look at my refrigerator as part of the interview process.

one of the things i did have to do was to answer the following (and in one-page no less…holy “keep it short and simple”!)

“What social problem is most compelling to you? Pick one or more organizations to partner with to address this social issue. What would you do? How would your solution engage a broad and relevant community, who would benefit, and how it would ultimately drive impact. And feel free to get creative with it!”

crap.  how do you pick one problem in a world filled with a bazillion challenges?  while i was tempted to write about the global plight called “the kardashians” (especially in light of their recent breeding), i decided against it at the last minute.  instead, i drank a bottle of wine and watched three episodes of queer eye for the straight guy did a heavy dose of soul searching and this is what i came up with:


A is for Apathy

One word: Apathy. 

Apathy kills.  Apathy allows bad ideas to permeate our society.  Apathy prevents good things from taking root in our communities.  When individuals feel disenfranchised, bitter, overwhelmed, it’s often the path of least resistance that’s adopted.  I’ve done it.  You’ve done it.  It’s better to dig a proverbial hole and put your head in it until things get better.

We wake up every morning to sensationalized news that tells us this group is killing that group…or that this celebrity is divorcing that celebrity. With globalization and boundless means to communicate, we’re bombarded with information that is often of poor content and quality. All the while, there are babies starving in the Horn of Africa. Our national debt is of astronomical proportions. There’s a rotating roster of politicians getting caught doing extremely unsavory things.  And then there’s Lindsay Lohan.

With all this noise and bad news and lack of clear solutions to these overwhelming problems, we just soldier on.  We go to work.  We come home and make dinner.  We check our Facebook and watch Dancing with the Stars.  We go to bed and do the same the next day.  That’s because there seems to be no other viable alternative solutions.

 But there are solutions. And it’s our responsibility to get that message out there.

We must reinvigorate our communities to re-realize that if there’s something they want to change or improve, they can do it.  I think we’ve forgotten that the smallest of efforts can truly make a difference.  In today’s world of social media, even the shyest and most docile person can become a community leader.  But we must teach people how to do this.   We must get to know our neighbors again so we can join together.  We have to put away the Blackberries and iPhones and PlayStations and pick up the phone.  We need to listen more and speak less.  We need to teach our children to think critically and be stewards of their schools.  We need to take less and help those with less more. 

When we take small, tangible steps to making a difference…whether it’s for improving the nutrition in school lunches, expanding the offerings in the public library, or addressing growing illiteracy rates…we can make a difference.  It may not be easy.  It may require long hours and being unpopular with some people in the community.  It may mean learning how to tweet or to create a website.  But if you can get others mobilized, the power of one is magnified with compound interest.

So how do we re-instill these values and skills?  We work with corporations and foundations to support programs that promote activism in our schools and communities.  While a Bank of America may not be a good partner for such endeavors for obvious reasons, there’s plenty of community-supporting businesses who share similar values.  Using existing community structures and creating and/or bolstering ones where they don’t exist, we can instill a sense of shared common values and teach people how to identify and address the key challenges in their spaces.  When you share how an elementary school girl in Scotland single-handedly influenced school officials to improve her school’s lunch program or how millions were moved to lobby against the atrocities of Uganda’s Joseph Kony through a simple video that went viral, it doesn’t seem as scary.

 So let’s think big, act small and kick some proverbial ass to make things a little bit better.


after i hit the “send” button, i felt a whole heap of  ‘katie holmes’ better…which was kinda weird and confusing and odd at first. but then it hit me.  i’d been fighting with my own personal plight of apathy for a while.  and to write a short manifesto as to why i’ve chosen to make a career of helping others kinda helped to reignite my own internal pilot light (and supes glad the wine fumes didn’t combust!).  while i’m not cured from the feelings of burn-out and jaded-ness that i’ve acquired after 12+ years in my field, i did realize something:  i do miss seeing someone be the best they can be with a little help from others (including me).

okay, enough of this “we are the world” BS from the coco…barf.  let’s just forget that just happened.  instead, let’s discuss how i can teach my cat how to do this, ok?

have a great tuesday, y’all!

2 Responses to “a is for apathy (and a pole-dancing b*tch)”

  1. Nancy dubuque July 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Good job so do you know if you got the job?

  2. coco July 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    fingers crossed i’ll hear something in a few weeks. if i’m a finalist, they’ll ask for my references…so i’ll have a better idea then how it’s looking!

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