It had been a while since I had marked International Human Rights Day with anything beyond a minute spent reading and signing an online petition, but when a flyer for Amnesty International's Write for Rights day landed on my desk at work, I took it as a sign that this year, I should do a little bit more.
While I like to think that I'm still more informed of and involved in human rights issues than the average bear, I must admit I've sadly become a bit of a lapsed activist. It's been easy to pretend to myself that with work, or looking for work or working on my hair, I simply don't have time to devote to any worthy causes beyond myself right now.
Flyer in hand I almost dismissed myself from duty once again, thinking about how my precious half-hour lunch break would be eaten up, but a little voice in my head (who sounded suspiciously like she was rolling her eyes) told me, "Oh just get over there and do it. People are dying and suffering and being wrongfully imprisoned, the least you can do is take a three minute walk and pick up a pen."
So I did. And despite the sad and unjust cases I read through before selecting two to address in my letters, amazingly, I left with a smile.
Part of my smile came from the other people writing letters, a tiny band of dedicated letter-writers, overjoyed to see me, a stranger, come to help with their campaign. And part of it came from the hope that, however slim, there was a chance that the letters I was writing might reach, might really get through to someone who could make the world a little better. If nothing else, at least the odds are better than when I simply fume and rant to Sparta about the state of things.
It was an excellent way to burst the isolating bubble I've felt growing up around me. It's so easy to blame it on time, or futility but I think really it's just that we're too frightened, too overwhelmed by what is out there. Too terrified to have our world get a little bigger and ourselves a little smaller in it.
My mom is dismayed by the direction our country is headed under our current government. Like many people, she's angry and sad and discouraged by what's going on, but unlike many people, what she is not and simply could never be, is complacent.
While most of us whine and shrug our shoulders, she identifies a problem and doggedly pursues a solution, sending emails, posting articles and signing petitions talking to anyone who will listen about the deceitful and appallingly undemocratic way our Prime Minister and his cronies are running our country. She performs tiny acts of rebellion each day in an effort to get others to start paying attention.
The thing that keeps her going, is not hiding from or closing her eyes to the evils of the world, but doing something, any little thing that she can to fight them.
I'm pretty sure I know whose voice it was in my head.