How to Be a Hero: Part 5

This post is the fifth in a series of tips from social justice activists on how you can unleash your inner hero to make a difference. Have your own tips? Submit to!

By Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, best selling author, founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of Common Cause.

  • Ask yourself where the gaps are widest between the ideals we as a society hold dear and the everyday reality you see around you. Then commit yourself to social change.
  • Pick an issue — in your neighborhood, your community, your city, your state, your nation, or worldwide — on which you think you and others working with you might make a difference. Then organize, mobilize, and energize others to join you.
  • Ask yourself who around you is being bullied and who the bullies are — at your workplace, in your community, in your city or state — and help empower those who are being bullied.
  • Commit yourself to making our democracy work better, and getting big money out of politics. Join an organization, such as Common Cause, that’s working hard to do this — and dive in.
  • Get involved in a program to mentor or tutor young people in your community or city who are in need of adult guidance.
  • If you see unjust behavior — someone at your workplace or in your community acting illegally or in ways that endanger the well-being of others — sound the alarm. Blow the whistle.
  • Help get the homeless off the streets of your community and into safe shelters. If there aren’t enough safe shelters, organize and mobilize your community to build them.
  • Make sure the children of your community or city have adequate health care, dental care, and enough to eat every day. If your community doesn’t keep track, make sure it does. Get the schools and other community organizations involved.
  • Help inform the poor in your community that they qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit — and help them fill out the necessary forms and go through the required processes to obtain the help they need.
  • Work with employers in your community to find and employ low-income and disabled workers who can do the jobs that need doing. If they don’t have the needed skills, work with your schools and community colleges to establish courses that give them such skills.