“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” ― Barack Obama

It happened on a break between the talking heads. Suddenly, I was caught by images of a white dog, then a veteran, some homeless people, refugees and immigrants, and even a polar bear. I heard their cry for help, I could see it in their expressions. It wasn’t until the end of the commercial that I realized I’d been watching an ad for an insurance company.

I don’t know if I’ll buy their insurance but I want to follow their advice.

Maybe the urge to follow their advice is simply my response to their commercial. Maybe it’s tied to President Obama’s quote above, as well as the idea from his farewell speech in January when he said that if I see something that needs fixing, I should lace up my shoes and do something. Maybe it’s some of each, and they’re all pushing me out the door – to be more active.

Of course, my something probably won’t change the world.

I’m not a general, just a private – a foot soldier in the army of millions of others wanting to do something. That’s okay. In fact, I think knowing that I am just one person in a field of so many is the best place to start.

After all, just leaving my comfortable bubble, and coming along side any marginalized group strengthens us both. My new friends meet someone who cares and I get my gratitude cup filled up.

More each day, I’m aware of how our 24-hour news is the new sugar. I’m watching too much of it and it’s not healthy for me. I need to pull myself away from Bret Baier and Wolf Blitzer, to trade-out those passive hours for active hours as a foot soldier with my favorite charity. I need to be working on a Habitat house, serving lunch at a soup kitchen, or tutoring a middle school student.

Do you remember my work boots? They needed repair, and now they’re ready to go back to work.

I need to stop sitting and watching and start going and doing. Anything that frees me from this dissonant drum beat of politics will return me to my world and my community. It will help me feel more positive immediately, without the sugar high from my TV.

What do you think about the continual talk of politics?

How do you think it is helping or hurting the way people feel each day? How could volunteering be a substitute for all this rancorous talk?

If you agree, where would you volunteer? Do you already?

I often hear how a volunteer receives more than the person being served. Is this notion true for you? If so, why do you think that’s true?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran


Now let’s watch the ad together. It uses the music from Don’t Let Me Down, an old Beatles tune and a new hit by The Chainsmokers. The song is a cry for help. It’s the same cry seen and heard in this commercial. We can’t keep walking by, we can’t let them down.

State Farm is not my insurance company, but they moved to the top of my short list with their powerful ad.