Awareness Is Not Enough
Awareness is an integral part of any humanitarian work. Awareness often sheds light on a hidden or forgotten issue. It causes the heart and mind to (re)engage something of importance to humanity.
Nevertheless, awareness alone is never enough. Awareness alone does not create the tangible change we want to see in the world. It may move us emotionally and intellectually, but it will never be able to do anything on its own.
In fact, awareness alone can be dangerous. It can actually create a delusional state of being where we fool ourselves into thinking that we are actually doing something by “being aware” or making others aware. No matter how pure or noble the intent, spreading awareness is not enough. Is it important? Most definitely. Nevertheless, our goal is not just to spread awareness.
We must do something. Any worthwhile cause requires action, even sacrificial action. Furthermore, it deserves intentional action. So, why do people get stuck in awareness?
- It’s easier. It’s easier to just pass along the information via our networks than it is to actually do the hard work. It takes time to learn more, engage more, and commit more.
- It’s attractive and non-obtrusive. Being “committed” to a cause at an awareness level is trendy and “cool”. Distant compassion feels better and more comfortable than actual engagement.
- It’s quicker. The work of deep justice takes lots of time. Awareness can be accomplished immediately. Awareness gives one a false sense of accomplishment when it becomes the goal for compassionate justice.
So, how do you move from awareness to action?
- Think next steps. If a cause or organization interests you, ask them what you can practically do. Be persistent. If they can’t direct, they probably haven’t thought it through well enough.
- Adapt your time. Reschedule your week so that you can volunteer or intern for your cause. Are there things you can do in your home, office, or school?
- Budget generosity. Adjust your savings to include a percentage each month for generosity towards your cause. Start with something as low as 1% and increase accordingly throughout the years. Save so that you will be able to give more.
- Learn names. A cause will only remain a cause if you don’t know any names of individuals affected by that injustice. If at all possible, meet and serve someone experiencing the injustice you care about. Although this may not be possible for all causes, do your best to make this happen.
- Continue to spread awareness, but don’t forget to share how you are intentionally altering your life to care for the cause. The greatest form of awareness is best packaged in personal stories. Include your story in the overall story towards justice.
Although this is not a comprehensive list, I hope it begins to stir tangible activity in your life towards making a difference.