10 Emails to Send Today

169 - TimeThe difference between who we are and who we want to be . . . is what we do.

This post starts and ends with two ‘motivational’ quotes.

There are two types of people in the world – those who like ‘motivational’ quotes on the internet, and those who definitely don’t.

Apologies if you’re in the second group.

Not everyone likes being ‘motivated’ to do stuff, especially by sanctimonious bloggers. If being ‘motivated’ isn’t really your thing, and you feel far more comfortable making up your own mind about what you intend to do, and when you’re going to do it, then I’m genuinely sorry for this clumsy attempt at ‘motivation’.

To be honest, I agree with you anyway. I’m always resistant to anyone telling me what I should do, or what I should like. I think I’m generally more likely to like a song, film or book if I feel I’ve discovered it by myself, than if it’s been recommended it to me. None of us like feeling ‘bossed about’.

The problem is we have busy lives, too many distractions and too little time. We read a well written and powerful article about the plight of the flatulating acid-spitting  zumzizeroo, agree it’s a terrible thing and that something should be done, consider writing to express our views or lobby decision makers – but somehow always end up clicking on the another hyperlink instead.

Issues and concerns enter our thoughts, and then almost immediately drift out again. Petitions go unsigned. Surveys go uncompleted. Views remain unexpressed. Ignorance and greed goes unchallenged. . . . Situations remain unchanged.

Of course we obviously can’t change everything by simply sending an email about it – I’ve written before about the need to Avoid Slacktivism. But sometimes in this hyper-connected world, public opinion makes a difference  - I’ve also written before about Changing the World from your Keyboard.

If you can spare a few minutes today to be an email warrior for five minutes – here are a few humble suggestions of worthy causes you could put your keyboard to.

Do it now . . . because sometimes ‘later’ becomes ‘never’.

(sorry – I promise no more ’motivation’)

1 - Email your MP and tell them you care about climate change and favour policies that fairly and sensibly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and encourage sustainable sources of energy. Perhaps support an amendment to the current Energy Bill.

2 - Register with Hugh’s Fish Fight Campaign, to end fishing discards and protect marine conservation zones.

3 - Sign Greenpeace’s online petition to Protect the Arctic from offshore drilling.

4 - Spend 3 minutes to register as an organ donor

5 - Petition your local council on a local issue of your choosing

6 - Sign a petition calling for the banning of neonicotinoid pesticides believed to be responsible for significant bee decline.

7 - Send an email on behalf of Amnesty International’s campaigns around the world.

8 - Check out the online petitions on the Government website. 100,000 signatures means consideration for debate in the Commons.

9 - Register with 38 Degrees or Change.org to get updates of new campaigns.

10 - Email your friends, or post something on your social media to raise awareness and support.

Photo by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

RELATED ARTICLES – 50 Ways to Avoid Slacktivism, 10 Ways to Change the World from Your KeyboardRebel with a CausePersonal Actions: Making a Difference


Next Starfish and Me

A guest post by Lee, an Environmental Health Officer.

I wanted to contribute to Next Starfish again. I’ve written a guest post previously, a technical contribution and in considering a topic for a second post I wanted to discuss something more personal, something life improving. In the end I’ve decided to write about how and why Next Starfish has affected me.

I guess I have always been into improving my own happiness, it’s a basic human aim, right? But it’s how I’ve changed going about this that I wanted to write about.

In 2008 my father passed away, not long after I landed my then ‘ideal’ job – a senior position within a multi-national consultancy earning a considerable wage. Since 2008, life has changed a lot for me. Here’s how.

I used to think having money solved pretty much everything, and my career ambitions lay primarily in how large my monthly pay cheque was. Whilst money does not necessarily solve all problems, a lack of it can certainly can create a few.

I have always had enough money to live very well. I haven’t always gotten exactly what I wanted, but always had what I needed, and as I mature, I’ve also tried to make decisions to ensure one day, when I have a family, they will also have a little of what they want as well as what they need.

But, the loss of my father in 2008 suddenly rendered financial comfort much more irrelevant for me. I suppose it marked the change from living my life as if it were guaranteed, to making sure that ‘I sucked the marrow out of life’ to coin a phrase from one of my favourite films, Dead Poets Society.

I now have much less interest in possessions. I still have a nice house* in a nice area where I enjoy living, a bike and a pair of trainers – that’s pretty much all I want. (*Somewhere decent to live is important -you have to have a sanctuary somewhere. In my job I often see people struggling in poor living conditions and they’re not good for people. People having to live in fear, not sleeping well due to their surroundings, or in conditions which cause ill health shouldn’t be acceptable to society).

I now spend more money buying experiences and enjoying time with my friends, than on possessions.

A bit more about me – I’m pretty sporty, and live for and love the great outdoors. I really do ! My best times have all been sporting times, and the best relationships I have are with sporting mates. I value the mates more than the medals, and the socialising more than the training. But a lot of what makes us great mates is the hardship of training and competing. When you’ve completed another 20 hours of training in a week, and raced to within an inch of your life, you bond well because you have hurt yourself for the benefit of the crew or team.  That relationship is never lost. The respect earned never fades. The trust is never dented. So, what is it I really enjoy . . . money, no. Medals, yeah maybe. Great friendships. . . bingo !

I’ve also had some experience with the Armed Forces – it fits in with my ‘mates and outdoors’ mantra. I remember one night, on exercise in Catterick, with the rain pouring and the wind howling, if I could have been anywhere other than there, then, I would. But after putting up our home for the night (a Gore-text sheet strapped to four trees), my mate had made me a cup of tea containing dirt and grass but I will guarantee you that no one could have derived as much joy from a caffeine drink than me at that exact moment. A simple pleasure shared with friends.

Am I very different to most people ? I don’t think so. We’re all social animals. I am a big believer in organisations: sporting, artistic, educational, agricultural or whatever. I think these clubs, especially with a structured hierarchy are as important to our social growth as schools or our family. Next Starfish suggested the film Into the Wild to me. The quote from that film that stays with me is ‘Happiness is only real when shared’. I certainly believe that. Is a great view as great if you’re on your own ? Is a good joke as funny if you laugh alone to it ?

The last 4 years have been a roller coaster – a very fast one at times, and one that’s certainly had some highs and lows at times !! But the ride has set a better perspective for me. I look forward to future now through very different eyes.

Now, my calendar is more full of stuff that my flat is. I enjoy talking and debating with friends more than buying ‘stuff’ and given the ‘stuff’ my attention. I know I should also do more for society, and want to find something I can do and commit to, to best use my skills. I also want to put some of my money to use for those who really need it. I want to see it making a difference, and am currently thinking how best to go about this – I hope to let you know what I decide to do through Next Starfish.

I’m still one of the richest people in the world. Not just  right now, but that has ever existed. The chances are, as you’re reading this, so are you.

Can I can distribute some of this money as well as my time ? I’m lucky enough to be educated and can also put that to use, influencing and lobbying – perhaps for better housing and living conditions for those less well off. That’s my passion, and it all helps.

A lot of what we see and read is designed to make us part with money. Newspaper headlines are aimed at making us buy, and do it through shock headlines that often play to our worst fears. How many people would buy a newspaper if the front page said ‘Things in the UK quite good’ ? For me Next Starfish challenges ‘the rules’ a bit, talks about another way to live. Some people might even say it is an ‘alternative’ lifestyle. But the messages and articles have struck a chord with me. If these messages could outweigh the marketing messages . . . well, I’ll help spread the word anyway as they’ve helped me.

I still keep up with the Jones’ – but the Jones’ are people who laugh and smile rather than own everything.

Photo by David Ashford, via Flickr 

RELATED ARTICLESNext Starfish: A ManifestoRebel with a Cause, The Beat of a Different Drum