On making a difference.
I went to my first SaveABunny outreach last month at Pet Food Express in San Francisco.
Since I’d never done one before, I warned the other volunteers in my email: “I probably shouldn’t be left alone at any point, because I’ve never done this before, and I don’t actually know that much about rabbits yet. I would probably get us sued or something. So, I really want to help out as much as I can, but I know I’m not going to be the most useful person to have around my first time. I’m probably going to be asking a lot of questions and generally being awkward.
Just warning you guys!”
Obviously I was pretty nervous. Who am I to hang around in a pet store answering questions about rabbits when I don’t even have one of my own? I don’t even clean cages! I’m just a writer! I’m good at two things: sitting at a desk and being a smartass. And I’m not even very good at sitting at a desk – I fidget all day. Sometimes I spin around in my chair and make myself dizzy just to be moving.
Well, despite my warning, the other volunteers were happy to have me tag along. And I’m glad they did.
It was the easiest, chillest day off I could have possibly had without incorporating pina coladas. Kara and I set everything up and put out the bunnies, then pretty much just hung out. People came by, we talked to them, they were cool. I knew a lot more than I thought I did and I was able to answer all kinds of questions. Frankly, almost everyone in the world knows less about rabbits than I did after my first five minutes on the SaveABunny website. If you read this blog, you are probably more than qualified to do a SaveABunny outreach.
But the full realization of how truly easy it is to make a difference didn’t come until a few days later. I was up at 4 in the morning with some friends, having a philosophical conversation. (Not something I do habitually, by the way.) Somehow, the subject of changing the world came up.
It sounds so big, “changing the world.” It sounds impossible. And it probably is! The world is huge! No one can really change it. That’s where our conversation stalled out for a long, awkward moment.
I looked around at my friends. They’re great people, I love them tons, but I realized – I couldn’t think of anything that any of them were actually doing to change anything. For a second, I couldn’t think of anything I was doing, either. Then I remembered the one time I’d done outreach for SaveABunny. And this blog. And how simple is it. I knew I wasn’t changing the world, but at least it was something.
I’m not trying to change the world – no one here is. I’m just doing small things here and there when I feel like it and happen to have time. It sounds like a lazy form of volunteering, (it kind of is) but if I had just gone home early today and watched The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, instead of remembering that I wanted to write this blog, and then actually doing it, it may never have gotten done. And because it did get done, I hope at least one person will think, “You know what, I’m free next weekend. Maybe I could do an outreach or something.”
Our core philosphy at SaveABunny about volunteering is that no matter what you do or how much time you have, there’s something you can do to help. If your only skill is underwater basket-weaving, you know what, we could use some baskets. Maybe we could make bunny-friendly baskets and sell them online to rabbit owners. Or use them for thank-you baskets to reward generous donors. Or just keep hay in them.
The moral of the story is, it’s way, way easier than you think it is to make a difference. And not just with SaveABunny – with anything.
In the grand scheme of things, we can only, ever make small differences.
But those are really big differences to the living beings effected by them.