Put up or shut up

By Veronica Steiner

In a culture where it’s important to be inclusive regarding our speech, I often wonder why those same ideals aren’t applied toward our actions?

Every day on social media, rantings about politics, social, racial and gender inequalities are seen with no solution in sight. It is true that we have the ability to relay information faster than ever but does this information facilitate change?

Too often we share a post, start a debate and leave our cause to die along with our interest in solving the issue itself. We need engagement from all citizens within their immediate communities to create a new social order where people put up or shut up, get to know one another and mend our local communities to build a stronger nation.

Change begins locally and moves globally. Engaging in your community organizations while having an understanding of its needs encourages growth. It is a platform to improve our neighborhoods, creating new relationships centered around problem solving and taking action.

Without action, City College would not offer free tuition for the residents of San Francisco today. Without action, Martin Luther King would never have led the march on Washington. Without action, Rosa Parks would have given up her seat on the front of the bus. Without action, only white male landowners would have the right to vote in our country.

Popular media has become a place where action dies, and division begins. As President Obama noted in a recent interview with David Letterman, “Whatever your biases were, that’s where you were being sent, and that gets more reinforced over time,” he continued, “that’s what’s happening with these Facebook pages where more and more people are getting their news from. At a certain point you just live in a bubble, and that’s part of why our politics are so polarized right now.”

So how do we combat this division in our country? We can start by leaving our screens at home, meeting our neighbors and participating in our communities. When we join forces, the differences fade, and the similarities bring us together to serve a cause greater than ourselves. Not only can this mend a polarized democracy, but it can bring an end to the stagnation of action.

In June of this year I will turn 30 years old, and one motto I have clung to for over a decade is the following: how can I be a part of the solution?

I have served different communities for over 12 years with various organizations in the Bay Area such as Americorps, CALSERVES and Big Brothers Big Sisters. I worked with the Richmond District Neighborhood Center to rebuild their organic garden which supports their home-delivery groceries program for the elderly, food pantries and literacy tutoring. I also founded the Richmond District Community Club, a group that builds sisterhood through service.

The decisions we make today are ever shaping our relationships and our future. Let’s help one another make our futures bright and our communities strong. Let’s learn to talk less and do more –because change starts with you.

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