“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
Martin Luther King
Last year, about this same time, I blogged about New Year’s resolutions. This is the time of year when many of us, believing in fresh starts, vow to change habits and commit to self-improvement. I still love what I wrote last year, but perhaps this year, we can up the ante: Maybe this year we can focus on improving the world around us. It is heartening that many of us feel galvanized to be activists. There are many ways, small and large, that we can make the world a better place to live. I frequently focus on my community by donating acupuncture treatments to local schools and charities. By organizing block clean-ups. This year I donated a thanksgiving dinner to my neighbors at the Bethesda Project. Want to get fit and raise money for your favorite charity? Check out this great app: Charity Miles, which tracks your steps and donates money to the charity of your choice based on your mileage. It’s perfectly fine if you feel better about yourself in the process.
Here are 20.17 ways to improve yourself in 2017: This is list only scratches the surface.
1. Stand up for women: On January 21st, marches are organized in Washington and Philly and probably many other places across the country. Six Fishes has donated an acupuncture treatment to the Women’s March in Philadelphia. We are so happy to support this effort.
2. Stand up for people with disabilities: No one should be discriminated against because they have limitations.
3. Stand up for the transgender community: Make an effort to use their preferred pronouns, even if it confuses you. Need more help with this? This link might be helpful.
4. Stand up to bullies: And while we’re at it, let’s teach kids to be kind. Here’s some guidance to help defend yourself if you or someone you know is bullied.
5. Stand up for reproductive rights: Donate to Planned Parenthood
6. Care for your neighbors: Shovel someone’s walk if they need help. Water their plants if they are away. Our community has an active group Facebook group that gives and asks for things. It’s called Buy Nothing, which offers real-life neighbors the opportunity to help build a sustainable gift economy by providing locally to one another. One woman even offered frozen breast milk!
7. Fight for the environment: We only have one body and one earth. Recycle plastic and batteries. Try your hand at composting. Hard to do in the city, but we use Bennet Compost. Also, consider this list of environmental charities.
8n.Protect animals: ASPCA. PAWS. Best Friends. The Humane Society. Here’s another fit tip: volunteer to take a dog on a walk or a run. Both of you will feel better. We always donate our old sheets and towels to PAWS, which costs us nothing, yet helps to care for the dogs in the shelter.
9e.Fight hunger. Here’s a list of 10 charities. Philadelphia also Manna, Philabundance, and Rooster Soup. For the second year, Six Fishes held a food and toy drive over the holidays. We are grateful to everyone who donated.
10. Fight climate change: Here are some ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
11. Fight pollution: Stop buying bottled water. If you have the option, walk, and bike whenever possible. Here’s a list of 10 easy green steps you can take.
13. Defend Human Rights. “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”. Thank you, Hillary. Here’ a PDF of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
14. Fight suicide and depression: Many people have lost loved ones to suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death and its preventable. Many of our patients use acupuncture and herbs to help alleviate their depression. Each year I donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
15. Fight ignorance: Be curious. Read and discuss the real news. Explore new ideas. Learn about history. Go to a museum.
16. Fight Illiteracy. One of my favorite local groups is Mighty Writers, which teaches children to think and write with clarity. With great pleasure, I’ve donated books to one of their reading groups.
17. Support our veterans. Many soldiers and veterans suffer from the effects of trauma without effective treatment within the military medical system. Acupuncture is a proven treatment. We like supporting Acupuncturists without Border’s Military Stress Recovery Project.
18. Protect our refugees. We are a country of immigrants. Consider donating to Amnesty International
20.17 Protect freedom of speech. Nothing is more American, more patriotic, or more important than our First Amendment rights.
I thought that it might be challenging to find 21 reasons to give to the world, but once I got started, I could barely limit myself to 21. Can you add to this list? I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, and I’d love to know what you think.
I’ll sign off the same way I did last year:
I wish you peace, love, and even more love. Have a great holiday and a great year.
About Cara Frank, L.OM.
Cara Frank, L.OM., was raised in a health food store in Brooklyn, NY. When she was 8, she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 33 years, she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17, she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20, she enrolled in acupuncture school. In 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with Chinese herbs. Since then, she has devoted her life to studying and teaching the topic.
Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts and Six Fishes Neighborhood Acupuncture, both in Philadelphia, where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of two warm and lively offices. She is also the president of China Herb Company. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.