I was reading a piece about Alyssa Milano in Sunday’s New York Times and came across this quote, which I love: “Each day is a blank canvas…go and make some marks.” I so agree.
In this particular instance, it’s related to Milano’s political activism. But I think the sentiment — or call to action — can be applied to anything. We no longer live in a world where it’s okay to just “be.” We do have to get involved, to participate, to do something for the greater good, to make our mark. How we choose to do it is up to us.
Given the state of politics globally, being an activist may be the first thought that pops into your mind, it’s certainly top of my mind, but it’s not the only way we can make a difference. Although having said that, I do think it’s time for a citizens’
revolt march in the U.S. A really huge one that brings Washington to a standstill and not just for several hours, either. It has to last for days, maybe longer. It has to peaceful, but it has to be loud and the message very clear.
Members of Congress need to hear from the electorate, that Donald Trump has to be impeached and removed from office, they need to be reminded they serve at the pleasure of the people who vote for them, not the president who wants them to do his personal bidding. And it wouldn’t hurt to drown them in email, faxes and phone calls either. And by the way, William Barr has to go, too. And get disbarred, before he completely destroys the justice department and the rule of law is nothing but a distant memory.
Voting isn’t enough. It’s important and there is no excuse for sitting an election out, but we have to do more. The circumstances are too dire to sit on our hands until it’s time to vote. We can’t just show up at the ballot box, we have to show up at protests, at town hall meetings, at rallies. We can volunteer and show up at voters’ front doors, we can answer phones at candidates’ offices and we can make sure that everyone who wants to vote, can and does — even if it means driving them to polling stations.
And if politics isn’t your thing, there are so many other ways to be an engaged citizen. When a family of Syrian refugees in Toronto decided to close their restaurant because they were afraid of the death threats they were receiving, there was such a public outcry of support (and condemnation for the attackers), they decided to re-open.
Help a stranger who seems to be lost. Check up on a neighbour you haven’t seen in a while. Bring a meal to a sick friend.
When I first went freelance in 2009, I decided to volunteer at a hospital. My mother volunteered when I was a kid in Montreal and then, when I was 16, I was a candy striper over the summer. And when my mother moved to Toronto, she volunteered here. I was so impressed with the program at Mt. Sinai Hospital, where she volunteered, I decided I would do the same once I was no longer working full time, which I did for about five or six years.
It felt good to do good and it was something I really loved. I stopped when I was going through a very busy spell and I felt guilty when I kept having to call and say I had a deadline or a meeting and wouldn’t be able to come. But I think about those days a lot and I do miss them; and when I saw the quote about making some marks, I realized that volunteering is a great way to do that, whether it’s at a hospital or any of the hundreds of other organizations and facilities who depend on volunteers. My work load is more manageable now and I’m going to get involved in volunteering again in the new year.
Right now I’m not sure exactly what or where that will be, but this I know for sure. My canvas won’t be blank for long.