Let me share a story with you, one that is not unique or isolated, but that stopped me dead in my tracks and compelled me to share it.
It’s not necessarily a new story, and the responses are not going to shock you, but if you read this story, I hope you’ll ask yourself the question above.
Across the globe there are people in need, animals in need, countries in need and so many demands that it seems overwhelming. Sometimes you wonder where to start.
I started with something I’m really passionate about and baby steps that can hopefully make a small impact. I’m an animal lover, and have had rescue dogs my entire life. My baby step was fostering rescues, and then volunteering to help rescue dogs.
Now, I play competitive sports and my sport is taking me to places farther from my home. With a world competition coming up in my own country, it presented an opportunity to help the local community with their overpopulation challenges. In fact, over 63 communities that are overpopulated with dogs; who are currently facing an abundance of dead dogs on streets and citizens culling populations to keep them under control.
This isn’t favourable for the dogs, nor for the surrounding communities.
When we approached the groups that are leading this world competition and asked them if they would help get the word out on how to support this initiative (much like the Olympian in PeongChang who helped get dogs rescued from desolate conditions and dog meat farms) we were told “Oh, that’s not our role.”
Undaunted we went to the next level of communities participating and were again told “Sorry, this isn’t our role, it’s not something we do.”
I was left scratching my head. There is certainly no bad publicity in supporting. There was no request for any monetary remuneration; in fact, it was merely a request to share information for those interested in participating.
Regardless, it was consistently met with “This isn’t something we do.”
Helping isn’t something you do? Helping spread the word to support a local community where your event will take place with people around the world isn’t something you do?
Caring isn’t something you do?
I was left asking myself. “So… whose job is it?”
And the answer seems to mystify everyone. A reluctance to help seems inconceivable. I could understand if we were asking for budgets that weren’t there or hours of labour that simply weren’t possible. Instead we were asking to share a message that would lend a hand and have a positive outcome for everyone involved.
There is no message of supporting a religious group, taking a stand against a political message or making a statement that could be controversial.
It’s simply letting people know, who might be passionate like me, about dogs, how they can help make a difference.
These dogs are beautiful, smart and incredibly savvy. They have managed to survive in tough conditions.
They are left to freeze in the winter, starve in the summer, hit by cars, culled by guns and left to die painfully on the side of the road.
There is no good process for the bodies that contaminate the streets. Communities feel powerless and it’s an ever present issue.
If we can help, even in some small way to get some of these dogs into new homes, getting them neutered or spayed and slowing down the population, we’ve made positive change.
It’s time. It’s time to realize that it’s everyone’s job. That wherever we go, we can do one small thing to make a difference.
We should no longer reflexively respond, “It’s not my role. It’s not something we support.”
When we have the opportunity to engage people, to empower people and to help them make an impact, we should take advantage of that. Each and every small gesture contributes to an overall bigger impact. Getting passionate communities to act helps get others excited about making positive change.
So the next time you’re asked to support something, before you respond, “It’s not my role.” think about what a small change in that response could mean.
You might be surprised at how big an impact that small action could make.