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Friday, January 22, 2010

Four Steps to Action

When a disaster happens in a far away place—like Haiti, the Asian tsunami of 2004 or even Katrina in New Orleans—what do I do? And how do I know if there is anything I should do?

Here is a four part process that Lumunos uses when inviting people to make decisions around priorities, adapted for the current crisis in Haiti:
  1. Pay Attention: Notice what is going on. Be willing to look at the horrific images and read the heartbreaking stories. Not all the time, 24/7. But be willing to take it in. Don’t turn your head. Stop. Pray. Something very significant and important has happened here. Even if ultimately you are not called to do anything, ignoring it is not an option. Nothing will happen if you aren’t willing to pause.

  2. Look for Connections: How does my life connect with what is happening in Haiti? Do I know anyone who knows anyone there? Do I have gifts or experience that might be helpful? If I am going to give money, what kind of organization do I feel a connection with?

    There are other kinds of connections to make as well, connections between our other roles and our role as a world citizen. If I am a parent, how do I process this with my children? How do I encourage them to care? Does my work connect in any way with this crisis? Does this tragedy strike a cord deep within me that other situations have not?

    Our call emerges only as we discover connections between the situation and our life. Are there dots that connect you with Haiti?

  3. Join with Others: Talk it over with friends. Connect via facebook. Use your small group/book group/knitting circle/bible study/bowling club to wonder together what you might do. This does two things: helps you decide if there is something you are called to do for Haiti. Secondly, there might be something your group decides to do together.

  4. Take a First Step: Frozen inaction, accompanied by handwringing and feeling overwhelmed and guilty, is the worst option. Massive leaps (e.g. trying to get President Obama on the phone to offer more aid) are usually equally unhelpful. But if you find a connection, then make a small first step. Email to someone you know who might know someone. Give. Practice gratitude. Pray.
It may also be that you are not supposed to do anything for the people of Haiti. If you have paid attention, looked for connections and found none, maybe you are called to something else right now. If you remain open, you will find other ways to help make the world a better place.

by Doug Wysockey-Johnson

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