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5 ways to change the world without leaving your city.

Amnesty supporter attending a candlelit vigil for Syria.

By Amanda Atlee, Activism Support Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia

So you want to change the world? But perhaps you are feeling a little overwhelmed by all the problems out there: climate change, poverty, equality of women, exploitation of animals, disease… Where on earth do you start? These issues are enormous and complex. They aren’t easy to solve. Does this mean you give up? Turn a blind eye to it all?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” said Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke.

I believe that each of us can do something, ANYTHING to make the world a better place. We can change how we treat each other, how we treat the vulnerable and how our governments respond to global issues. We need a generation that cares about the world, what happens in it and acts to change it for the better. We can be that generation.

Only you can know what drives you, what you care about, and what you want to change. What type of world do you want to be a part of? What type of world do you want your children to grow up in?

No matter what issue frustrates, inspires and drives you, you don’t have to dedicate every second of your life, move overseas or spend all of your money to create change in that area.

You can consider what fits best with your life, using your passions and your skills.  In fact there are many ways that you can improve the world without even leaving the city.

Learn and share informationWe are more interconnected now than ever before and have a wealth of information at our fingertips. If you are passionate about an issue learn more about it, keep up with current affairs and share this information with your friends and family. Follow your favourite causes on facebook and share their content.

Only by really understanding your passion, and hearing differing views on the topic, can you make your mind up about the best ways to make change. This is also how you can inspire, argue with and win over other people to your cause.

Add your name to a petition that is highlighting a cause you are passionate about. Better yet, ask someone else to sign the petition, or even better still, deliver a petition to your local member of parliament to demonstrate that other people in your community care about this too.

Alone it may be hard for your voice to be heard but joined with dozens, hundreds, thousands of others, your cause will be amplified and real action will be have to be taken.

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Volunteer your time – Donating time to a cause you are passionate about is a great way to actively be involved. Many organisations rely on the commitment, the skills and the passion of volunteers. If all volunteers decided to stay home tomorrow there would be elderly people who wouldn’t receive food, fires which would burn out of control, sporting teams which wouldn’t have a coach and people who wouldn’t be able to access health services. Volunteers are integral to our community. But it is not a one way road. Volunteers develop new skills and become involved in a community of people who are also inspired to make change.

Amnesty volunteer speaking to member of the public about the need to support Afghan women.

Mobilise your local community – whether you write a letter to the editor, put a pamphlet in your local library or hold a community event, there are many opportunities to advocate on an issue in your local area and reach more people who may care. Consider joining a group that works on issues you’re passionate about.

In 2010, Darryl Nichols mobilised his community of Bondi around the idea that one persons trash is another persons treasure. Instead of leaving unwanted items on the side of the road, Darryl encouraged households in Bondi to hold a garage sale on the same day. In years following Darryl’s community expanded to Australia and overseas. Since 2010, Garage Sale Trail has redistributed over 1.6 million items from potential landfill and generated over $4 million.

There is no secret way and you don’t necessarily need special skills. All you need is a desire to make change and the motivation to reach out to others who may also care.

Think before you buy – Businesses are some of the most important and influential organisations in the world. Everytime you buy something, you are giving your approval for whatever process was involved in its production. That could be empowerment of workers, or it could lead to their exploitation. Consider buying ethical, fair trade, environmentally friendly products, cage-free eggs, dolphin-free tuna or other items that align with your priorities. There is plenty of fairtrade chocolate out there so this is a good excuse to eat more chocolate and simultaneously have a positive impact on the farmers in developing countries.

These easy activities are lasting, sustainable and beneficial both to yourself personally and to the world. Find what drives you and soak up the feeling of being a part of a community that cares. You don’t need to do it all, but everyone can do something. You may find that trying to change the world might even change you too.

Visit the Amnesty International Australia website to find out more.

Any other simple ideas for how you can change the world? 

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