What To Do When You Feel Helpless

In my blog post yesterday about the invasion of Ukraine, I confessed my sorrow about the start of a new war and my lack of knowledge about how I as a private citizen can do much to alleviate the situtation.

Later that day, I happened upon this video by Hank Green, one of the much-beloved (at least by me) vlogbrothers, who for 15 years have run a twice-weekly-posted YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers. Hank and his brother John Green both have developed series of free educational videos, written best selling novels (John’s most famous work is the YA novel made into a movie, The Fault In The Stars), and run a charity called Foundation to Decrease World Suck (http://www.fightworldsuck.org). The major public fundraising event of the Foundation is called Project for Awesome (https://projectforawesome.com), a 48-hour livestream event in which the public is not only asked to donate funds in exchange for unique rewards, but to upload videos highlighting charities that should receive some of the funds raised during the event. You never know what may be going on when you tune in; for example, when I was watching last night, first I heard an astronomer discuss the Webb telescope, then watched as John’s two children dyed his hair purple and his mustache pink in celebration of the fact they had raised $1.7 million in donations at that point. But what else would your expect from these brothers, who are the modern intellectual version of two wild and crazy guys (except they pursue truth, beauty, understanding, and a better world instead of swinging American foxes)…

As chance would have it, the Project for Awesome livestream is happening this weekend, from noon ET Friday February 25 through noon ET Sunday February 27. You can check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers/live

Before launching the livestream, however, Hank Green posted this wonderful video post entitled “When You Can’t Fix Everything”:

While I hope you watch the video itself, the juicy nugget was when Hank was talking about how powerless he felt ( presumably about the situation in Ukraine), his wife blew his mind with this bit of wisdom; she said, “There aren’t really any problems that aren’t connected to the other problems.”

You can hear his interpretation of this epiphany, but here is mine:

What should you do when you are feeling helpless about a situation like the conflict in Ukraine? Something. Anything. Anything as long as it is something that helps someone, even in a tiny way. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with Ukraine. Doing SOMETHING positive is better than sitting around, feeling bad and guilty, but doing nothing.

For example, after 9/11, thousands of people all over the country donated blood. Now, obviously, blood donated in say, Nebraska, or even here in North Carolina, wasn’t going to be used for those injured in the attacks in New York City or Washington DC. But people in NYC or WDC felt the support and appreciated the connection. Watching the TV show huge lines at donation centers across the nation united us and made us feel like we were all in this together.

So if you wish you could give blood to support those injured in the Ukraine, then give blood where ever you are. (Note: I don’t know if this is still the case, but at least in the beginning of 2022 the Red Cross announced there was a national blood crisis because blood donation was down significantly, primarily due to issues around COVID. So this is not just a “feel good” act; there is a real need for more blood donations to support our medical system.)

Yes, you will be helping people in your community rather than people in the Ukraine, but you will still be helping people. Every act of helping someone somewhere adds a bit of positive energy to the “Helping People” end of the energetic continuum of our world to combat the massive amounts of energy going towards the “Hurting People” side when a war is going on. Because we are an interconnected universe, I do believe that how we here in the US react can make a difference in Ukraine. Maybe there will be something we can do to directly support Ukraine at some point (I, for one, will gladly boycott Russian caviar, or even Russian vodka), but for now, we can indirectly support them by sending love and light into the world not just through our thoughts, words, and prayers, but by our acts of love, compassion, kindness, and caring.

That’s what I believe. For now, for average people like me, perhaps the best way to counter the acts of war in Ukraine is to wage peace in our own country, our own communities, our own families, and our own hearts. Maybe it won’t help, but it certainly won’t hurt.

Of course, as I mentioned yesterday, you can always give money, if that is possible for you. Ukraine can use whatever financial support we can get to them.

As can many other organizations. So if you are in a particularly generous or abundant state right now, I suggestion you check out the Project for Awesome, vote for some favorite projects, and contribute if you can. I’m sure just visiting the website and livestream will lift your spirits. The videos showcase all sorts of good work by different people working on different projects to make the world a little bit better. The livestream often is, to quote John Green, “bonkers”–but in a good way. Since when did making a difference in the world have to be serious and “significant”? PFA makes it funny and light and joyful…and don’t we need more of that right now? Apparently we do, because it’s working. When I checked a few minutes ago, the PFA had raised close to $2 million! And the fundraiser isn’t even half way through its livestream.

Sitting around feeling feeling helpless doesn’t support you, Ukraine, or the world. If nothing else, do something today to live up to the PFA’s motto: DON’T FORGET TO BE AWESOME!


2 thoughts on “What To Do When You Feel Helpless

  1. Thank you. I’m reflecting a lot on inner peace, taking personal responsibility of being and living in peace, and holding fast to the possibility of love.

    Like

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