Another significant development in our perception of the world around us and our ability to take action has come about through the use of the internet.
There is a lot of talk around today about globalisation. This is a term that means different things to different people, depending on where you are coming from. Globalisation to some in the economically developed world refers to "free trade" - the ability to produce goods and sell them with the lowest possible costs. Unfortunately for many developing countries, this leads to the opening up of exploitation - a situation where the rich get richer.
Globalisation could mean much more, it could mean the development of a vision that goes beyond our back yard. More than anything, it should be more than "Americanisation". The growth of online communities enables better sharing of information, of understanding that we are not alone with our problems, and we can also share ideas about how to take action to change things.
"We inspire young people to believe that change is possible, and we train, fund and mobilize them to be leaders who measurably strengthen their communities."
The underlying strength in any grass roots organisation is that change is possible and we are capable of doing a lot more for ourselves than we might think. The "Do Something" philosophy is that we have the power to change the world especially when we take action that is in the interests of others rather than for our own selfish motives. The organisation encourages students to develop an awareness of positive values as well as doing something about this through a number of programs that they run.
The "Do Something" message is spread partly through their web site, but they also have partners in a number of other media organisations who provide some of the financial backing needed to run a non profit organisation such as this.
The BRICK Award:
Since 1996, "Do Something" has awarded more than $500,000 in grants to young community activists who are mentoring at-risk students, caring for people with AIDS, helping gang members choose peace and a host of other efforts to strengthen America's communities. The title of this award recognises that strong communities (like buildings) depend very much on the individual bricks that make them up.
Kindness and Justice Challenge:
This is a challenge (in the U.S.A) to students to honour the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. by helping others and standing up for what's right for two weeks beginning on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday. Students in grades K-12 learn important values such as respect, non-violence, responsibility and moral courage. Students are encouraged to recognise positive values and put these into action in their schools, home and neighbourhoods. Programs such as these, by heightening student awareness, expose students to a more positive made of behaviour. With enough practice, this will become second nature and part of their normal behaviour.
How Can I get Involved?
A supporting curriculum is available for those teachers who wish to implement the program. "Do Something" also features some areas where efforts are needed to bring about a change. The July 2000 feature for example, looked at racism. As well as articles designed to inform students about the issue, there are extensive links provided for those who want to take action and make a change including sources for funding individual projects, and steps that individuals can take to bring about a change.
An interesting sideline here is that while these ideas are in practice in the USA, there is nothing to stop them being adapted in countries around the world. As near as we can figure, no one has yet copyrighted the key elements of selflessness and kindness.
(Material here adapted with permission of "Do Something" )