I’m not sure how to express this…but since living on and near the rez, I have had so much confirmation, through Lakota culture, how connected everything is. I always believed that we are not in this world by accident, but by some grand design that we do not see, that everything and everyone comes together exactly when they should, everything we do has an effect on the people around us, every choice we make sends ripples out into the world, and every act of kindness results in a chain reaction of benefits to people out into the world. Some people call this the “butterfly effect,” that there is order in seeming chaos. Every one of you on my friends list are there for a reason, have come together for a reason. Mitakuye oyasin…we are all connected. We are connected by love, so that we can become what we are supposed to be, and do for others what we are supposed to do. If you feel lost, maybe this is your sign that everything will be all right. When things don’t work out, it’s simply a change of direction. We humans don’t like change–we like to build the illusion of stasis. Change is everywhere, all of the time. And we can be like the driftwood on the tide, and roll with it, or we can fight it. It’s generally better if we don’t fight it. Nelson Mandela had an idea about 67 things we can do to change the world for the better. Do a random act of kindness today. Stand up for someone. Plant an indoor garden and give away some of the produce. Most importantly, wait for the signs that will surely come that will point you in the direction you are meant to go.
Mandela’s 67 ways to change the world
1. Make a new friend. Get to know someone from a different cultural background.
2. Read to someone who can’t at a local home for the blind.
3. Fix the potholes in your street or neighborhood.
4. Help out at the local animal shelter. Dogs without homes still need a walk and a bit of love.
5. Find out from your local library if it has a story hour and offer to read during it.
6. Offer to take an elderly neighbor who can’t drive to do their shopping/chores.
7. Organize a litter cleanup day in your area.
8. Get a group of people to each knit a square and make a blanket for someone in need.
9. Volunteer at your police station or local faith-based organization.
10. Donate your skills!
11. If you’re a builder, help build or improve someone’s home.
12. Help someone to get his/her business off the ground.
13. Build a website for someone who needs one, or for a cause you think needs the support.
14. Help someone get a job.
15. If you’re a lawyer, do some pro bono work for a worthwhile cause or person.
16. Write to your area councilor about a problem in the area that requires attention.
17. Sponsor a group of learners to go to the theatre/zoo.
18. Get in touch with your local HIV organizations and find out how you can help.
19. Help out at your local hospice, as staff members often need as much support as the patients.
20. Take time to visit terminally ill people and bring some sunshine into their lives.
21. Talk to your friends and family about HIV.
22. Get tested for HIV and encourage your partner to do so too.
23. Take a bag full of toys to a local hospital that has a children’s ward.
24. Take younger members of your family for a walk in the park.
25. Donate some medical supplies to a local community clinic.
26. Take someone you know, who can’t afford it, to get their eyes tested or their teeth checked.
27. Bake something for a support group of your choice.
28. Start a community garden to encourage healthy eating in your community.
29. Donate a wheelchair or guide dog, to someone in need.
30. Create a food parcel and give it to someone in need.
31. Offer to help out at your local school.
32. Mentor a student in your field of expertise.
33. Coach extramural activities at the school.
34. Offer to provide tutoring in a school subject you are good at.
35. Donate your old computer.
36. Help maintain the sports fields.
37. Fix up a classroom by replacing broken windows, doors and light bulbs.
38. Donate a bag of art supplies.
39. Teach an adult literacy class.
40. Paint classrooms and school buildings.
41. Donate your old textbooks, or any other good books, to a school library.
42. Give blankets you no longer need to someone in need.
43. Donate clothes you no longer wear to someone who needs them.
44. Put together food parcels for a needy family.
45. Organize a bake sale, car wash or garage sale for charity and donate the proceeds.
46. Donate shoes you don’t wear.
47. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen.
48. Help at a local children’s home or orphanage.
49. Help the kids with their studies.
50. Organize a friendly game of soccer, or sponsor the kids to watch a game at the local stadium.
51. Coach a sports team and make new friends.
52. Donate sporting equipment to a children’s shelter.
53. Donate educational toys and books to a children’s home.
54. Paint or repair an orphanage or youth center.
55. Mentor someone.
56. If you play an instrument, visit your local old-age home and spend an hour playing for the residents and staff.
57. Learn the story of someone older than you.
58. Take an elderly person grocery shopping; they will appreciate your company and assistance.
59. Take someone’s dog for a walk if they are too frail to do so themselves.
60. Mow someone’s lawn and help them to fix things around their house.
61. If there are no recycling centers in your area, petition to provide one.
62. Donate indigenous trees to beautify neighborhoods in poorer areas.
63. Collect old newspapers from a school/community center/hospital and take them to a recycling center.
64. Identify open manhole covers or drains in your area and report them to the local authorities.
65. Organize groups that you work with to switch off all unnecessary lights and power supplies at night and on weekends.
66. Engage with people who litter and see if you can convince them of the value of clean surroundings.
67. Organize to clean up your local park, river, beach, street, town square or sports grounds.