(previously published on Yahoo Contributor Network as, “I Wish Somebody Would Do Something About That!”)
"Why doesn't somebody do something about that?"
Every time I have cared about an issue, I've asked that question. Maybe you've asked that question yourself.
But the time to stop asking that question is NOW!
And NOW is also the time to stop asking similar questions - ones that require YOU to be the answer. Want to know what I'm talking about? Read on.
When two children died from auto accidents on a dark corner in a very busy intersection near my home one year, I heard everybody asking, "How many kids have to die before they install a street light here?"
What a stupid question! When you ask that question, are you expecting an answer? Was somebody trying to build a memorial garden of flowers on that corner?
I was very vocal about my position on the idiocy of the "powers that be" and complained loudly that I wished somebody would do something about the ongoing problem. And when the third child died at that intersection, I vowed to put a stop to the question I kept hearing everybody ask, because my response to, "How many kids have to die before they install a street light here?" was zero - STOP asking that question!
And then it occurred to me: If SOMEBODY could do something about the issue, I could be that somebody. Of course I had no idea how to get a light installed at that intersection, so I made several phone calls to a couple of political figures in the area, one of whom completely ignored me (until he saw everybody else offering help - only then did I have his full support), and another one who decided immediately to join me in the battle to find out how I could initiate the process.
When I heard that a traffic light had already been discussed and would eventually be put in, I was appalled to find out that nobody knew WHEN the light would be installed. Because of all the "red tape" apparently stuck in a black hole somewhere, how would I (how could I) expedite the process? Would circulating a petition help?
"It might, but you would need several hundred signatures." Not a problem.
I incorporated the help of my children and their friends and we circulated, circulated, circulated pages and pages of petitions. We took our cause to local gas stations and convenience stores, most of which agreed to carry and promote the petitions. I also asked various businesses to offer the petitions to their customers. Not many business owners cared about the issue though, so very few businesses agreed to carry them.
Despite the difficulties, before I knew it, without my calling anybody, the media became involved. I was interviewed by radio stations and newspapers alike, all asking for more information. By the time it was over, I had far more signatures than I needed.
Satisfied that I had done "my part," I thought the problem was solved and that the light would be installed.
Little did I know that the installation of a light at that particular intersection would require the approval of so many government agencies. From the state to the county to the city to the township and even to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), everybody involved in each corner of that intersection had to approve the installation of the light. With so much focus being brought to light (pun intended), though - due in part to the attention the petition garnered - the traffic light finally appeared, and I was grateful for being a part of the process.
Prior to the traffic light incident, I had been strongly affected by the Adam Walsh story. My children were all at vulnerable ages (baby, toddler, teenager - then again, isn't every child vulnerable?) when John and Reve Walsh's son disappeared and I wanted to prepare my children for the possibility of being abducted by a stranger or hurt by somebody who was supposed to love them.
So I wrote You Are The Boss of Your Body, a book for 2-8 year olds that was written with the intention of empowering children to stand up for themselves. At the time I wrote it, I wanted to make a profit from the sales of the book. Now, as a result of my concern that not everybody would be able to afford it, I give it away (in PDF format). If you would like a free copy, please read, Child Abuse Prevention Book - A Free Downloadable Book for Children Ages 2-8
to find out how to get your free copy.
My newest wish that somebody would "do something about that" involves children being bullied. I despise anybody who uses his or her position of power to humiliate, degrade, and destroy the spirit of a child or even of an adult. I'm not yet sure what role I want to play in that arena, though I have written an article about it, Socializing, Peer Pressure, and Bullying: At Lunch, on the Bus, During Recess: Raising Confident Children and Managing Bullies, but I know I will play some role in helping children overcome the trauma associated with bullying, even if my only participation is to write more articles about the subject, because bullying is a subject about which I care very deeply.
After the traffic light incident, I recognized that if I felt strongly enough about an issue to say, "I wish somebody would do something about that," I could either do something about it myself or stop complaining about it.
If you feel so strongly about an issue that you find yourself saying, "Somebody should do something about that," BE that somebody. You may not know how to initiate the process, but if you investigate, you can figure it out. At the very least, you can help even in small ways.
I'd like to leave you with one last thought: Please stop asking how many people have to die before an issue gets resolved. Questions beg to be answered.