Changing The Little Things

I got an email that is worth sharing.

So often when I am asked how to be an effective activist, I feel people are wanting a magic pill.  Do this one thing and you can change the world!  The truth is that big changes are made up of little changes, and it’s very rare that one person can ever change anything big.  What we can all do is change the little things each and every day.  That’s how we make progress.

So just before Christmas, I was at work and I had to go somewhere in the building that led me past the nurse’s office. She has a bulletin board outside her office where she posts information about different health issues that she wants to educate the workers about.

When I saw the big letters announcing that the current theme was mental health, I stopped to read. She had posted a number of sheets of paper, each containing information and statistics about a different mental illness. I read them all and noticed that there was no sheet for eating disorders. When I got back to my department, I took out a piece of paper and wrote her a note. I said that I thought her choice of theme was great since people do need to learn more about it, but I asked if she could add a sheet on eating disorders. I mentioned some of the things I had been surprised to learn about from your posts (such as the fact that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illness) as reasons why she should add it. I left the note in her cubby and forgot about it over the holidays.

Fast forward to today when I found myself walking by her office. Last time I went by, the information sheets were arranged squared off in even rows (3×3 or 4×4 I think). Today, I noticed in addition to the evenrows, there was one by itself below the others. It was a sheet with information on eating disorders. And she had even included some of the points I had passed along (as well as a few of her own).

I don’t know how many people pass by that part of the building or how many of those will stop to read it. I know its not a big change. But I appreciate how difficult it must be to share your experiences like you do and I wanted to do what I could to pass it on.

When I saw that the nurse had posted the sheet today, I really debated about whether to email you about it or not. I don’t want to come off as saying “look how awesome I am. I did good. Give me hero cookies!”. But in the end, I felt it was important for you to see that your courage to share IS changing the world one bulletin board (/blog/donation…) at a time. Rest assured the information you share does not end with your readers.

It’s courage on the part of all of us.  Doing things like this requires speaking up.  And you, reader who sent this email, do get hero cookies.  Little stuff like this that nobody sees is really the stuff of selfless heroics – it intimidates a lot of people into silence.

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