Author: Howard Jacobson


4 Actionable Steps to Effect Change as Inspired by the Howard Jacobson novel J

November 19, 2014 Book Review 9

4 Actionable Steps to Effect Change as Inspired by the Howard Jacobson novel JJ: A Novel by Howard Jacobson
Published by Hogarth on August 14th, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Fiction
Pages: 326
Source: complimentary review copy


When I would tell strangers that I work with abused and neglected children I would often get the response “there’s no way I could do that job.”  For the longest time, in self-important manner, I would respond with “how can I not,” subtly implying that they should be out advocating for children as well.  I’m not proud of my self-righteousness nor my judgement {they may have been feeding the hungry for all I knew!} but I am proud of the work I did.  Those years taught me so much about my fellow man.  While I met a few truly evil individuals there were many more that were just unprepared or unable to care properly for their children.  I’m not excusing any parent’s mistreatment of their child, but I did come to learn that not all things are as they appear.

My years working with CASA and in a group home also ingrained in me that in every single case the little things added up and made the biggest differences.  I wish I could tattoo that fact on the hearts of everyone, everywhere how true that concept is in action.  And then I saw the news this week that gave me pause:   the brutal beheading of American Peter Kassig by Isis and the horrific slaughter of four men in a Jewish synagogue and the subsequent death of one of the police officers stopping the two killers.   Helpless and hopeless.  Two incredibly self-defeating emotions.  Two feelings that suck the life right out of me and two that I try very, very hard to not fall into.  With the newscasts this week it is understandable to either fall into despair from the senselessness or to turn a blind eye so that you don’t fall into that despair pit.

What got me out of hopeless and helpless and what keeps me going is moving forward.  Taking action.  Relying on my knowledge and training to propel me forward; knowing Margaret Mead is spot on when she said never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.  John F. Kennedy is right when he quoted Edmund Burke by saying the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.  With that in mind I made the beginnings of a list of actionable steps anyone can do to move in the direction of making the world a better place, for all of mankind.

Four Actionable Steps to Take Today

1.  Be kind to your fellow man.  Change starts with me. with you.  To effect change we must be the change.  Kindness to all and not just those we deem “worthy.” Anything less perpetuates prejudice and injustice.

2.  Become informed.  If you feel that the newspapers and television news shows are only giving us part of the story, go online.  Read blogs.  Read the news from other countries via the Internet {more times than not you can find sites with news in a language you can understand}.  Seek out the truth.  Interview those who are in the thick of it and can tell you the truth.

3.  Write letters to those in power positions outlining your views on an injustice.  Ask for a response.  If it’s someone in political power use your vote to influence.  You’d be surprised what a well-worded letter in the right hands can accomplish.

4.  Use social media to inform others in a non-threatening, non-violent manner.  Social media has been shown to be a hugely effective platform for initiating calls-to-action.  Anyone participate in #GivingTuesday that began a couple of years ago?

Please do share any additions you have to this list in the comments.

This post was inspired by the novel J: A Novel by Howard Jacobson, about a world where collective memory has vanished and the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited:  “the past exists so that we may forget it.”  In a world recovering from a second holocaust, differences are not celebrated.  Heirlooms are not tolerated, and still the “J” are not accepted.  

Join From Left to Write on November 20th as we discuss J: A Novel.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.