How You Can Help
There are many ways you can “walk your talk” about the problems of adult literacy, AIDS, the advancement of global democracy, our military families, and childhood obesity and get involved. You can read to an illiterate. Better yet, you can try and teach him or her to read on their own. You can put up downloadable posters about the importance of literacy and fighting AIDS in your workplace or workspace. You can sponsor or just participate in a “read-in” or a “read-a-thon.” You can also join an AIDS walk-a-thon or sign an on-line petition. Read a book in public or make friends with someone who has AIDS! These are great ways to get the message across. There are so many ways you can join the fight.
As for global democracy, my goodness, there is no limit to what individuals can do to help out. How about voting? That really demonstrates to others that you believe in democracy. And you know what? Sometimes democracy gets a “bad rap.” Instead of criticizing democracy, try and concentrate on its many good points. Talk about democracy with your family, friends, and neighbors. Can it be improved? If so, how? And how can it be advanced globally? The world needs your ideas!
The one thing we cannot do is nothing. Apathy is not an option. As mushrooms grow in darkness, so illiteracy, AIDS, a slowing of the spread of democracy, military family problems, and obese children thrive in silence. We can never overcome the problems of adult illiteracy, AIDS, non-democracy, dysfunctional military families, and overweight kids if we do not utterly erase the shame associated with them (or, in the case of childhood obesity, put shame to work as a tool to discourage kids from eating so much and being so sedentary.)
In your dealings with illiterates, make sure that they know that illiteracy is a disease and not “their fault.” Be sure you tell them that. Just don’t write it down and give it to them to read. (That’s a little joke I tell at illiteracy events. And you know what? The biggest laughs are always from the illiterates themselves!)
Regarding AIDS, make a real commitment to doing something about it. Don’t just pay “lip service” to the issue. Get serious! Deal with it!
And, look, people who suffer under oppression in un-democratic countries often feel a sense of hopelessness about their situation. Don’t you give into hopelessness about their situation, as well.
You may not know it but I bet you have a military family right in your neighborhood, if not one with an active duty service member, then maybe one with a veteran in the family. And maybe that family could use some help or, at least, a friendly “hello” and a sincere “thank you for your service.”
Do you have an old broken lawnmower? Then maybe someone in the military family knows how to fix it. You pick up a lot of useful life skills in the Army, Navy, etc. Why don’t you offer them a little money to repair it? The amount doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you’re helping maintain their self-esteem. Or maybe instead of paying them, you can just give them the lawnmower. You don’t need it! It’s broken anyway. Before you know it, their house and lawn will look much less messy and perhaps they will have started a lawnmowing business.
If you live in a nice neighborhood and therefore don’t have a lot of military families living near you, I bet, sure as shooting, that you have some fat kids nearby. Why? Because they’re everywhere! What you should do is give them dumbbells, yoga mats, or jump ropes for Halloween instead of fattening candy. When you see them trudging slowly along filled with self-contempt, don’t just shake your head and make a sarcastic comment. That doesn’t help anyone. Chase them! Chase them all the way home. Get their hearts pumping and their blood flowing. And make sure you chase them regularly. Just chasing them now and then is almost as bad as not chasing them at all.
And please be sure to always park as close as you can to whatever you are going to, be it a store, a movie theater, or a museum. “Convenient” parking spaces are just another excuse for overweight people (of any age!) not to walk as much as they should. If you take one or two spaces right in front, others will have no choice but to walk further.
Making a donation to the Meyer Fund is perhaps the best way to get the most “bang for the buck” in your personal battle with adult illiteracy, AIDS, and the forces that resist democracy and make life difficult for our military families, plus childhood obesity. Rather than give up an hour of your time to volunteer at, say, an AIDS hospice or an adult illiteracy center or a human rights call center or a military base or a fat camp, spend an extra hour at work and donate your salary from that hour to the Meyer Fund. Because we work with so many groups that we vet individually and because of the scale of our effort, you can be sure that each dollar entrusted to us will go very far indeed.
Here are some other worthy anti-adult illiteracy, AIDS, global democracy, military family assistance, and childhood obesity organizations and resources: