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Over Time Small Efforts Make a Big Difference

A couple of days ago I tweeted:
“Today I’m shipping packages, taking care of household tasks, and considering carefully what I should do to make the world a better place.”
“I need to pick a “make the world better” goal which is sustainable over the long haul, which is why I’m considering carefully.”

A friend tweeted back that she would love to hear what ideas I came up with. I still haven’t formulated a full plan, but last night a piece of it came into focus. It started with reading this series of tweets from a former Congress staffer on
How to effectively talk to your member of congress

A step not mentioned in that link is figuring out what to talk to my representatives about. Specific conversation is much more effective than generalized conversation. If you call and say “Please oppose Bill A because of reason Z” That is concrete and actionable. Whereas “Protect the rights of vulnerable people” can be interpreted in all sorts of ways, both good and bad. It is also more effective to talk about specific bills right before they are voted on.

It turns out there is a website dedicated to informing US Citizens when Congress is in session and what they’ll be voting on.
Calendars and Schedules for the House and Senate

They don’t yet have a schedule for 2017, but I noticed that the House will be in session the week of November 14. Here is a list of bills they will be voting on. Maybe one of those bills matters to you. You might want to check.

I also googled and found a website that makes it easy to find out who your representatives are and how to contact them. whoismyrepresentative.com

Having found those sites, I’ve realized that if I take a small fraction of the time I spend reading news sites and just scan over upcoming legislation, I will be aware when a bill occurs that I feel strongly about. Then I can take the few minutes necessary to call my representative. Or if I feel really strongly, perhaps I can speak up to draw attention to the bill. Or if I feel critically urgent about a particular bill, I might be able to organize a group of people to work together to support or oppose.

I suspect I won’t feel critically urgent very often. The vast majority of bills are routine or have no effect where I live. I’ll leave those to the people who are affected.

For this next week, one bill jumped out at me. H.R.5332 Women, Peace, and Security act. (Full text available at the link) In my quick read, it states that, statistically, peace treaties and agreements last longer when women are involved in making them, so therefore the US should make an effort to include more women in creating peace treaties and in negotiations. I would like to see that pass, so I’ll be calling my representative this week.

I’m also setting a reminder on my calendar to check back on the scheduling website in a month to see if they’ve posted the 2017 schedule yet. Then once they have, I’ll set reminders to check the specific bills the week before they get voted on. This is a small sustainable thing I can do.

3 comments to Over Time Small Efforts Make a Big Difference

  • Janci

    I want to do this, but one time I did and my representative wrote me back a scathing email about how wrong I was and how “those people” didn’t deserve help. And then added me to a mailing list where they sent me their screeds about the things they were doing, and I found both the rhetoric and the actions abhorrent. I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it since.

    Maybe things are bad enough now that I will get over this. Maybe I will add their email addresses to a filter so their emails go automatically to spam before I do.

  • Peggy :)

    Awesome info – thanks for sharing!!! I will defintely be keeping a better eye on legislation this upcoming year. 🙂

  • Sean M

    A Canadian solution was Yann Martel’s books for Harper/What is Stephen Harper Reading. That required a lot of emotional labour though.