BY SHARON MARTIN
Unjust justice system.
People swayed by propaganda to vote against their self-interest.
Folks who don’t care enough to vote.
When you start to feel hopeless, start thinking of solutions. What can one person do?
Smile at people.
Reject hate. It is neither a family value nor a religious one.
Teach a young person to think for him or herself.
Feed a child.
“Poverty is a very complicated issue, but feeding a child isn’t,” says Jeff Bridges. The Dude has made it his mission to end childhood hunger.
According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, one in six Oklahomans live in poverty. Half of them work at a job or jobs that don’t pay a living wage.
What can we do about it? We need policy changes. Instead of welfare programs, we need universal healthcare, college and job training, and childcare for working parents.
Until we get there, we need to pressure legislators to make sure the safety net has no holes. Each of us with full bellies and an extra five bucks can help, too.
Contribute to the food bank. Support candidates who support WIC and other pro-child programs. Advocate for healthy school lunches for every child.
There are 40,000 more students in Oklahoma’s schools, but fewer qualified teachers and fewer dollars. Student debt is crushing those who graduate and stopping many more from pursuing post-secondary training and education. For-profit schools often fail to deliver on their promises, and testing companies gobble up both dollars and student motivation.
What can you do?
Support teachers. Help them help each child fulfill his or her promise. Don’t moan about the cost of an education but consider the investment potential. Productive citizens need fewer services and fewer jail cells, and they pay dividends!
It was the renewed interest in science and art that gave us the Renaissance after the Dark Ages. Let’s usher in a new renaissance by making equality of educational opportunities a priority.
Volunteer as a mentor. Support Donors Choose – $5 a month from each public school supporter will fund a lot of art, music, books, and hands-on experiences that too many schools can’t afford to offer.
If we aren’t afraid of taxes on those who can afford them, we can do even more.
Roll up your sleeves. 2016 is still a few months away. Until it is time to vote again, there’s other work to be done.
What are you doing to make Oklahoma a better place? What can you challenge your friends and neighbors to do? I’d like to know.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer