Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Newton's Second Law of Social Change: F=MA

On Friday, I suggested that we can't set out to solve world problems, that the problems are just too big.

Hopefully, if you read that post or what I posted yesterday, you realized that I don't mean trying to be a force for change. It just means the task is too great for you individually.

For some sick reason this began to make to sense to me through Newton's Laws of Motion.

Yesterday I posted Newton's First Law of Social Change: Balanced Forces, today I'd like to talk about the second law.

Newton's Second Law: F=MA

The Force of an object is the product of its Mass (weight/size) and Acceleration (speed over time)

Yesterday, I talked about the need to overcome the forces perpetuating problems like hunger and genocide, this second post is about the size of those forces.

To get a very simplified idea of strength of this force: if you could take the number of hungry people in the world (mass) and multiply it by all factors contributing to starvation and how quickly they are strengthening (acceleration), that would be the size of the force you needed to "end hunger."

That is an impossible task for you to do.

So what can you do? What can I do? 

First, don't take on an impossible, abstract task like ending poverty, you will only be discouraged and maybe even give up. Find something real that you can do and commit to doing it.

Second, find something real that you already believe in. 
  • If you care about women's rights, stand up for the rights of a woman sold into prostitution. 
  • If you believe that no one should go hungry, hold a food drive to benefit your food bank or help teach a man in poverty to farm
  • If you love coffee, drink coffee and do good
Find something that speaks to your heart and listen to it.

Third, keep doing it. This ties directly back to the first thing. Find something you can do, not something you wish you could do, and keep doing it.

While sending money to an organization fighting for a cause is great, if you want to really be compassionate for the needy, invite them into your world. That may be reaching out not only to the desperate poor in Sierra Leone but also to the poor in your city or neighborhood. There is nothing more real than breathing the same air as forgotten person you have chosen to love.

Another way to "bring someone into your world" is by sponsoring a child in poverty through and organization like Compassion International. When you sponsor a child you not only send money to save their life, but you commit to being part of their life and letting them be part of yours.

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