At the beginning of a new year, people pull out a mental notepad of goals and resolutions they'd like to accomplish by the end of that year. You've probably done that yourself, whether it was to eat better, exercise, pick up a book more often, and the list goes on. Yet, how often do individuals keep these "resolutions"? And how often are our resolutions primarily focused on ourselves?
This year, as you take on a new year, let me encourage you to strike up a new resolution: to act.
As the New Year begins, instances of violence and tragedy are being committed every day. In December violent conflict has broken out in Central African Republic and the new country of South Sudan, where violence has torn apart families and forced children to bear arms as young as ten. After a massive outpouring of support, months later victims of Typhoon Haiyan are still suffering. In Syria and its bordering countries, those displaced from their homes aren't seeing a decrease since civil war broke out in the summer.
Often times we see or hear of stories of those suffering around the world, yet we don't act or speak up. You don't have to be a millionaire to make your voice and money count. Instead, all you have to do is pick up a phone or write a letter to your member of Congress.
In today's political discord, where party lines are the law of the land, it can appear that no one can get along; there's nothing to be done so just give up. However, it can at least be agreed that in instances of human rights and global connectivity, the United States must speak up.
When I became involved with Invisible Children I started taking an active role in the participation of my government. In 2012, my actions and those of many others, helped pass a bill to apprehend the Lord's Resistance Army leader, Joseph Kony and to work with civil society leaders on the ground to bring an end to the conflict. In May of 2013, I led five lobby meetings on behalf of the Enough Project to help draw attention to the atrocities occurring in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Whether it's taking time out of your day to meet with your member of Congress for an hour, sending a simple e-mail, or making a short phone call on an issue you care about, you do have a voice. Unfortunately, very few actually use that voice. Only five percent of U.S. citizens actually meet with their member of Congress in some capacity. We can change that.
The United States and its allies have the capacity and resources to shed light on human tragedy.
So this year, make your new year's resolution one of not just empathy and compassion for those suffering across oceans and continents, but one of action. Pull yourself away from CandyCrush and find your member of Congress.
Take one minute out of the total 1,440 minutes in your day to speak up.
Empathy isn't what the world needs more of, it's action.