‘They’ say the first step is always the hardest.

“Whatever we believe about how we got to be the extraordinary creatures we are today is far less important than bringing our intellect to bear on how we get together around the world and get out this mess we’ve made. That’s the key thing now. Nevermind how we got to be who we are.” – Jane Goodall

When quotations like this appear on Facebook or in news stories and articles, they get a huge number of LIKES and positive comments. I want to ask, “So, after you clicked LIKE or wrote ‘so true,’ what did you do next?”

Likewise, when people encounter charities and various crowdfunding initiatives that are collecting money for programs that will make a better world, I’m curious what people did after donating their $25 or $50. The same thought comes to mind about what people do after signing petitions that are trying to raise the public’s (or an elected official’s) awareness about a problem.

Many people appear to believe that talking about an issue is the same thing as actively working to “fix” whatever needs to be fixed. Being concerned about something, while commendable, isn’t the same thing as putting your money where your mouth is or putting your brains and brawn where your money is.

Needless to say, some people who donate $50 to one group and sign a petition in support of another group really think they’ve done their bit.

I don’t have a list of the things people ought to be doing, but joining nuts and bolts volunteer groups is one place to begin. Once you join, you’ll see an old truism governs how much gets done: 20% of the members usually do 80% of the work.

In churches, the concept of the tithe usually refers to money. Yet, we can also apply it to time, as in, giving 10% of one’s time toward fixing the mess we’re in. Even though some government officials, corporations, and lobbying groups are giving 100% of their time to make the mess worse, if enough people chipped in enough time to thwart those who are destroying nature and freedom and equality and peace, then we might have a chance of actually fixing something rather than talking about fixing something.

One way or the other, we need to take that first step toward action.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” “Lena,” “Sarabande,” “Mountain Song,” “At Sea,” and “The Sun Singer.”