This is a guest post by my buddy and good friend, Ali Dark. Ali lives in Brisbane, Australia and I'm currently in Kathmandu, Nepal.
We spent about an hour and a half on Skype bouncing ideas off each other and discussing ways that we could help make the world a better place. This is a great example of why I think technology gives us the perfect opportunity to start bringing the world together -- two people who never met each other, separated by thousands of miles, brainstorming ideas to help improve humanity.
Ali and myself are both going through life changes that involve a strong dissatisfaction with "normal" and an even stronger desire to do something that ensures we leave behind a world better than we found it. This blog post was born from our discussion and I think it includes some important ideas for bloggers and non-bloggers alike.
Making a difference starts with taking a stand. It starts with planting our feet on the ground, openly showing that we care, and being willing to discuss and brainstorm solutions to real problems... problems that are determining right now the future we leave behind for our children.
Let’s start a little fire that whistles "I am not scared of my conscience" all over the web. Let's integrate our passion and conviction with the rest of our lives.
So you have a blog. It’s easier to care on Facebook or Twitter than it is on a blog. Facebook is not "on topic". Facebook is you talking to the people who already like you. Twitter is similar, with a bit of hopeful marketing thrown into the mix.
But to care on your blog -- which is not about caring but is about whatever your target market needs from you -- that’s something else. That's something called a day job.
That might be all we think of it as right now, but we can change that with a little tactful integrity.
I care a lot, but not on my blog. I care everywhere but my blog. I'd even rather care at my family dinners than on my blog. I even started another blog just so that I could care over there and not care on my main blog, where I want to sell stuff sometimes.
You know the word you just read... “integrity”? What does that really mean? More importantly, what does it mean today? The definition of integrity is getting looser and looser as the rift between life and logic widens.
Remove the disconnect. Together.
If we’re going to make a difference in the world, we need to stop preaching to the converted. We need to stand up for our beliefs. We need to become voices for our convictions. If we think there are essential problems that need solving yesterday, we need to get active. We need to integrate the information dissemination process into our lives.
Care on your blog
Here's the call to action.
But hang on, you might be saying, my blog targets an audience who are potential customers. Why would I shoot myself in the foot by shoving my unrelated ideas into their heads? Just because I should? My wife/husband/bank account is not going to appreciate this. In fact I could do more about my cause with more money, not less.
Okay, let me be more specific. Show that you care somewhere on your blog, in interesting and creative ways that accompany and compliment your on-topic content. Like a spark, visible for a second from everywhere but not dominating the landscape.
Excerpts. Links. Call outs. Asides. Footnotes. Sublime messaging. Nothing cheap. Nothing Corny. Do it your way.
My blog is about helping people shine confidently online, to rise above the branding/marketing theories and thrive as themselves. Something like that -- I'm still working it out.
For bloggers, this is what I'm thinking: introduce a widget under the post or the footer of your blog, or down the sidebar somewhere. This widget could link to your Google Reader starred items. Or maybe a Twitter hashtag feed. Or maybe a specific Digg feed. You get the picture.
In this little box, in the context of "Ali's Reading..." for example, you would see what I care about.
Your eyes will go there. You will know that it's not about blogging, necessarily. You will know it's not being shouted at you. You will be reading and clicking by choice. You will be learning what I care about because you care. Totally non-invasive, but strangely attractive.
If you're not a blogger
If you're not a blogger, why not talk about real world problems the next time you're chatting with friends or family? Why not pose a question that will cause everybody to talk -- or at least start thinking -- about long-term sustainable solutions to problems the world is facing right now?
Let’s tell the world it’s okay to care by openly showing that we care and integrating that into every aspect of our lives. Let’s make it clear that it’s okay to express hope, concern, and conviction for the future of our children.
I know it sounds crazy, but think of it this way. Everyone cares about something. If everyone cared openly, it wouldn’t be like “oh my god this guy cares about something, smash the computer reset button, no time to backspace”. It will be like, “oh, so that’s what this guy cares about. I wonder why?”
Ali does WordPress websites for microbusinesses, freelancers, and anyone who wants one really. He also cares a lot and thinks the whole planet should be vegan. But even if you're not, he still believes in your shininess.
Hi Raam, thanks for publishing this. I can’t wait to hear what your friends have to say, I keep refreshing the page waiting for the first comment. Then I thought, well if I comment I’ll be notified, so…
You’re most welcome, Ali! This message that we need to take a stand and openly show that we care — that we need to not be afraid of caring about the world — is very important.
More often that not, I think we’re scared to take a stand because we don’t know if others around us will disapprove. But the only way we can start collaborating and making a difference together is if we state our convictions and openly express what we care about.
It’s like a bad relationship: If there is very little communication and the real issues are not discussed, the relationship will only get worse before it gets better. We need to work on improving the relationship with ourselves, our neighbors, and — now that we have the Internet — the entire global community. Only then will we be able to make great progress towards creating a more peaceful world.
You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life, but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.
Agreed, except that we’re no longer living in world where communication involves a human running for days to deliver a message great distances. We’re no longer living in a time when ideas, revolutions, and rebellions take place in the square of town.
We now have new tools, and therefore a new meaning for “ground”, to work from — new “mud” to spend time and energy working in. The real mud and real ground are also extremely important (as this new ground wouldn’t survive long without them), but I think it’s important to recognize the advantages these new tools and technologies bring and figure out how we can best use them to move the direction of change in a positive direction.
Sure they still do, look at Iran, that was only a year ago. Not even a year ago a government with otherthrown by people ramming the president gates and shoooting at government forces with their looted weapons. You think technology is so advanced, but its not, we’re still humans. I think you may be putting to much of a self importance on yourself. where is the substance? why brainstorm in a private communication where your larger audience cant hear from it or put back into it?
when you said: Making a difference starts with taking a stand. It starts with planting our feet on the ground, openly showing that we care,
that made me think of the term of putting boots on the ground or how a general said it, by putting young men in the mud, taking a stand would be holding your ground = land , it all ties back into land when you want real positive change, and that is going to require bloodshed. Its a cruel world and its going to takes more than positive thoughts to get things accomplished in the real world.
Malcolm X Message to Grassroots
Didn’t the brainstorming result in this blog post and a place for you to leave your comment?
Bloodshed is NOT a requirement. Will it happen? Probably. Requirement? Absolutly not.
The Internet connects people. They are still people who live on the ground. You know the amount you know about the stuff that recently happened in Iran because of the Internet.
Why don’t we look for solutions to problems instead of talking in circles about the differences between real ground and virtual ground? Why aren’t we discussing, right now me and you, ways to encourage positive change and positive action? Saying it can’t be done only insures the future remains unchanged.
Sure the internet is the reason I know, but it wasnt the main reason why it happened. The militia had better communication and mobility. They was all on motorcycles and radio so once one sector got out of hand they could take some reserves and have them go there. They didnt have to walk,fly or get on the bus, they had a individual form of transportation. But If the Iranian people would of embraced violence once the militia started getting violent then they would of won.
Matt – your comment about the link between land and conflict is very important and relevant. Land is a huge issue – we are running out of fertile, arable land, which compounds cross border and tribal tensions. We are very likely heading into a future of prolonged conflict without serious changes in how we use land.
And this is actually one of the primary reasons underlying the post I wrote above. We can affect change. I want to help people educate themselves about mistakes we make in our lives that without us knowing, lead us into these horrible places of conflict, fear, and lacking.
Back to land. If people switched to plant-based diets, besides being healthier (it’s a fact I’ve been proving the last few years and that Carl Lewis and millions of others prove all the time), we will go from a situation where land and water are quickly depleting, to a situation where land and water are abundant. We can feed 10 billion people on less land that we use today for animal agriculture. I forget how much less but it’s something like half or less (wait for Raam Dev’s upcoming ebook). I’m also over waving facts and figures for things that should be common sense.
Continue eating the way we do, with the projected increases in meat consumption in the third world, and we need five planet earths to maintain a stable climate.
Change, and there’s simply more to go round. Won’t that lead to less fighting and war? Totally.
This change is just one of the things I want to point out to people! Much to be done.
I’m not a big fan of eatting meat, but I plan to have free range chickens , goats and a buffalo. Alot of peasants and deer around here worth hunting too. But right now im working on growing all my own veggies, and seeds for next year. How we eat is one of the most important things. I would love to see you guys eat everyday.
As for climate change, i think that is a natural cycle and you shouldn’t mess with mother nature IMO were due for another ice age.
Say the same things have the same life; say something new, have a new life. What I appreciate about this post is the invitation to begin saying (and doing) new things.
Saying new things takes courage and there are numerous examples of this throughout history. Our lizard brains will do anything to keep us from feeling the discomfort of this. And yet, what’s the alternative?
What you’re talking about is the alternative and I appreciate the invitation: to take a stand, take that first step, care publicly. It doesn’t make us fanatics, just people bold/crazy enough to stand out.
To quote that awesome piece by Marianne Williamson yet again, “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
If not now, when?
Yeah. The internet and blogosphere are just one part of humanity than can change… but it might be one of the easiest because it changes really quickly!
The standing out feels weird at first, just like you feel weird watching that guy dancing by himself at 9pm while everyone else is still topping up their blood alcohol level in preparation – but then when everyone’s up their you can’t even remember who that guy was.
It feels totally weird and uncomfortable, sometimes even life threatening! That’s the power of the lizard brain desperately trying to keep us safe. But safety has a cost – to my vitality, integrity and overall experience of life. It’s just not worth it anymore!
That’s an awesome analogy, Ali! Any kind of change, especially being the one instigating change, feels scary and lonely so long as we’re the only ones doing it.
But that’s where I see the beauty and potential of the Internet — there are so many people out there who genuinely want to help make the world a better place.
People like everyone commenting on this post who, through action, can collectively change the course of the future. Governments, corporations, military’s — they can’t touch an idea, and it’s the idea coupled with specific actions that creates change. (That last sentence reminded me a lot of that movie a few years back, V for Vendetta.)
I enjoyed that movie. A touch on the psycho side but that’s entertainment (I GEEKED out bigtime over Predators this evening. It was aweomse BTW).
It starts with us in any case. Governments need our permission. We create governments, not only through the democratic process but we also create their uselessness through our own complacency and, well, lizard brain slitherings.
There is a dam of human potential restricted by a wall made of money but mortared with the ignorance of everyone. We empower negativity in one way or another, but as soon as we know a better way, we can collapse millenia’s worth of mistakes.
In theory, but in real life, governments dont need your permission, they easily rule by the barrel of a gun, and in a democracy, its mob rule. Thats why I like our republic and the constitution the way it was founded.
I love that quote, Sandi!
Once we take a stand, it’s so vital that we also take action. It’s difficult and challenging to take a stand and hold our ground, but it’s magnitudes more difficult to actually take action once we’re there (using Ali’s analogy, it’s like getting on the stage, but not actually dancing).
@ Sandi – I don’t know Marianne Williamson but very nice quote.
And I agree very much with you when you say that taking a stand and caring – being bold about the things you care about – it doesn’t make us fanatics or crazy.
You guys have hit the nail on the head. That’s why I’m blogging — because of the potential for critical discourse and the springboard to action. Not necessarily to create yet another to-do list, but to spark a new sense of BEING. This (for me, at least) is a critical step for all of us to see the world and our place in it in a new way.
Raam, it’s similar to previous (brief) back-and-forths we had. While I’m not opposed to to leveraging blogs as a vehicle to redefining our work life (e.g., minimalist business; personally, that would be nice), I believe there is more longer-lasting value by using them to connect people to new ways of thinking, new visions, etc.
Great stuff. Let’s keep it up. Let’s re-write the “book”. Be well.
I see blogging as a form of self-expression (or at least I think that’s it’s ultimate usefulness). Combine that with millions of people and suddenly you’ve got millions of people expressing their views and finding common ground.
The Internet is new enough that this stuff is just beginning to emerge. The power behind the Internet, and the power to influence, educate, instigate, and collaborate on a mass scale, has yet to be fully realized.
The Internet is already being used to facilitate science, education, jobs, and communication, but it can be used to collectively create movements that propel large portions of the population to take specific actions based on simple ideas — hopefully (and this is my mission) ideas that improve the world and ensure it’s a better — not worse — place in the future.
A world where we learn to live with abundance in a sustainable way — be it abundance of growth, wealth, knowledge, or even population.
I’m using my blog to share my views and educate my readers on marketing, social media and Linkedin in particular.
However, I support http://www.riding4acause.org (this is my CARING activity outside my day job), and have proudly displayed a linked logo as a side widget.
A little extra exposure won’t hurt, and showing my “other” side, outside work, will make give my readers (and clients) a fuller understanding of me, personally!
Heya Raz. Totally – and being a social media consultant, you’re also setting a standard and leading by example which everyone will benefit from.
Hey Raz, thank you for the comment!
Great to see you showing support for a good cause! I think it’s important to always keep an open mind and constantly look for new ways that we can make a difference — whatever that might mean. We only have so much time in this life, so we may as well take every opportunity to leave behind a world better than we found it.
THANK YOU! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I am taking a stand. I am educating women about the importance of good nutrition in the preconception and prenatal period because this is the BEST way that *I* can help create healthier generations of children.
Crystal, thank you so much for the comment and for the work you’re doing!
I believe healthy living is at the foundation of a future of sustainable abundance and education is key to creating that foundation! Your work is planting seeds that will enable future generations to live a healthier lifestyle, and that is of absolute importance!
I would suggest everytime you talk about it you mention something about vitamins in your postscript or signature because thats something basic alot of people dont know or simple forget about if they have a feeling their pregnant or know someone who might be. As a male, bearing a child isnt something i really thought about so the importance of vitamins never really came to mind before.
Going beyond preaching to the already converted, I think is a critical question. Thanks for taking a risk and caring in public places.
Thanks Sandra. There’s just too much to care about. It’s easy to focus on our little lives, but really, we’ve been doing this too long.
Thank you, Sandra! I think we need to be more willing to take a risk, to stand up for what we believe in, and to make such beliefs known publicly.
That’s one reason why I feel that everyone should either have a blog or should contribute to the discussion — everyone should be part of a collective effort to come up with ways to create (and to publicly commit to actions that result in) a more sustainable future. Why? Because everyone’s actions, to some degree, affect the lives of everybody else.
This post has great timing for me. We recently wrote about microfinance on our website because it is a topic that is close to our hearts and something that we’ve seen work in communities from rural India to Bolivia. However, it’s not a “hot topic” for our readers who are more travel oriented. So, I’ve been wondering whether I should be mixing content like this. But I still see so much potential for travelers to get involved with microfinance as a way to give back to countries and communities they’ve traveled through. This post reaffirmed that it was the right decision to write more on this topic and try to help those people who do want to get involved.
Awesome! Catering to readers is one thing, but shaping ourselves to fit their expectation is another. Be as you are your right people will be drawn and changed. Conjoining two related topics is a great idea. Like Raam Dev does… I’m sure he will have a word on this with you.
Audrey, you hit on an important point. I’ve been brainstorming ways to combine my nomadic travel lifestyle with my newfound life purpose of promoting sustainable abundance.
I think the key lies in taking what Ali recommended in this post a step further (and this may not be something all bloggers want to do, in which case Ali’s recommendation is perfect): Blog on topic about whatever our audience reads us for, and then mix in blog posts that are directly related to something that we feel helps make the world a better place.
For example, you’re motivated to write about microfinance. Your blog could become the “travel + microfinance” blog. Some of your readers might not be interested in microfinance and some of them might not be interested in travel, but by becoming a voice for both, you hit both topics which educates both sides AND you become the go-to blog for anyone who has passions for both (and I’m positive you’re not the only one!). Personally, I would be very interested to learn more about microfinance.
This mixing of blog topics/directions is largely what I’m moving towards doing here on my blog. With a new focus on sustainable abundance, I’m also continuing to write about personal development while simultaneously mixing in bits about my nomadic travels.
And even my tweets reflect this combination: Posting pictures of my hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal isn’t really relevant to “sustainable abundance”, but it is relevant to “nomadic travels”.
It’s a tricky and sometimes delicate balance, but I think it’s the best way to achieve a goal blogging for business/pleasure/personal-development/etc while simultaneously creating a voice that promotes awareness for good causes. An added benefit to doing this is that it brings more of our personality, and what makes us unique, to our blogs.
Great post. As a relatively new blogger who is just figuring out where she’s going I find this post very empowering. This line stands out for me, “Let’s make it clear that it’s okay to express hope, concern, and conviction for the future of our children.” The more I blog, the less I fear saying or expressing anything and the more I begin to understand what really matters to me. Love your ideas on how to show that you care.
Thank you, Katie! I have also discovered that blogging has really helped me understand what matters to me (and what matters to others!).
Just as we shouldn’t be afraid to express our opinion or hold our moral ground in any real-world social situation, likewise we shouldn’t be afraid to do the same on our blogs — which have the potential to be seen by a far greater range of people from all different walks of life.
I totally agree. Blogging started as a platform for expressing the things we care about, but it soon became all about marketing.
I do think we need to write about what we care about. I like the idea of putting books you’re reading in the sidebar.
Great idea. Thank you.
Maybe blogging will come a full circle. It used to be laughed at as a platform for self-obsessing and whining (which was fair enough) but has come such a long way in 6 or 7 years.
Maybe now that the blogosphere is growing up a bit it will start to realized there’s more to live – and no place in insulated from reality enough to afford ignorance.
Hey Angela, thank you for the comment. 🙂
While the Internet is extremely useful for commerce and marketing, I think we haven’t even begun to see what it’s greatest final purpose will be. The potential for the Internet to connect individuals across borders and to share information, ideas, and opinions has immense collective power.
By expressing what we care about and telling the world (i.e., all our readers), we indirectly promote the things we care about and encourage others to care about them too.
Hello Ali and Ram,
I read in the posting “Making a Difference Starts with Taking a Stand”.
I have been inspired over the years to recognize that is it not what I say or write or teach about personal development that shows who I am but what I do in reality.
I take a ‘stand’ when I make some of the decisions in my life that have not been easy to adjust too.
One time I left work for a year to help a friend who had cancer deal with their experience.
Recently, I left my work behind and with my family I moved countries to help a friend in need.
It has not been easy to do this but I don’t regret the decisions I have make even though they have not always been popular.
I really liked what you said about taking a stand not necessarily being about what we say or write, but rather what we do in reality.
Everyone can talk. Everyone can write. But to take those and actually LIVE them in our lives, that’s something else entirely.
I find that living our philosophy, really living it, automatically makes us an example for others — we lead by example. And really, there is nothing more powerful than inspiring someone else through our own example — no need to preach, no need to lecture, not even a need to teach. Living our philosophy, living the change we want to see in the world, automatically rubs off on those around us.
That was an interesting article. I think it depends so much on what sort of blogging your are doing, what readership you’re aiming for etc. I’ve only started blogging again recently but I think I understand the pressure you’re talking about – there is that feeling of needing to provide what you think people want and a whole load of reasons, personal and otherwise why it’s good to be a bit more authentic.
It definitely depends on what type of blogging you’re doing. If you’re blogging for personal reasons vs blogging for business, you definitely need to take a slightly different angle. Either way though, I think a lot more care can go into what we write about online.
Thank you for the comment! 🙂