On the wall in my favourite coffee shop is a sign that says,
“Always hold firmly to the thought that each one of us can do something to bring some portion of misery to an end.” It moved me so much over the years, that I made a copy for my kitchen where it has hung for a long time.
Over those same years, I have frequently enough urged people to get involved in one cause or another – but I realize now that ‘getting involved’ is a little more complicated than just the phrase. It can involve conflict, passions, stress, and sleepless nights. Neighbours on opposing sides might not speak to each other for years. People who put up lawn signs of the “other political party” may even make us feel threatened. Many volunteers start out feeling motivated, and once involved, become disappointed in the organization, or discouraged by people. So I have a few pieces of advice for the cause-weary.
One is to maintain perspective. For example, your community’s spirit is more important in the long run, than the heritage house you’re fighting over.
I find it helps to keep reminding myself that if someone yells at me in anger, he is probably afraid. And sometimes we can even talk about that fear, and reduce it.
Disappointment in your chosen cause and how it’s run or who’s in charge, need not turn you off causes in general. You are needed, so just move on. I see nothing wrong with moving on many times if necessary, until you find the ’cause of your dreams’. Perhaps it will simply be helping someone learn English, or reading to a blind person, or listening to someone who needs to talk. If you are uncomfortable with people, you can make a difference delivering flyers or stuffing envelopes – or writing a blog.
Perhaps you’d be more comfortable in the realm of ideas – e.g. policy development in an anti-poverty organization. I must say some of my best education on world events resulted from my years in the peace movement, working with some wonderful minds.
Sure, take a break from a disappointment; but think and reflect and then get back in the game. You are needed. You will make a difference. You are not doing this in hope of some vague, elusive ‘happiness’ – but you will be enriched. And I am sure you’ll help bring some portion of misery to an end.