Walking the talk

In the ‘What makes a humanitarian? ’ series, we ask the CanDo community about their experiences of making a difference and the challenges people face when it comes to taking action.

I think my sense of responsibility came from my parents. Although I am not religious now, I was brought up in a catholic environment and I think that the principles of christianity have stuck with me - like social responsibility and caring for others. It was also nurtured in school - I remember in English class we had to write to politicians and ask them to make a change on something we cared about. I don’t think this happens anymore - in fact, I think this is something that some people don’t even realise you can do.

These days, I’m doing my bit to keep things on a fair and equal basis. Every day, I sign a petition, write to my MP, share something on social media - I think some of my friends think I’m nuts! They get it, but I’m sure that they sometimes think, “Just give it a rest Annie!” But I don’t think we can - particularly within the current political context. We can’t allow things to happen that will happen if we don’t do anything. We need to remind the people in power of what normal, decent people want.

Causes I get involved in are quite wide-ranging. I’m really interested in the environment, but more than anything I am passionate about things that involve inequality or prejudice. I believe that we need to be looking after society as a whole, we need to be responsible. I don’t have anything against corporations and individuals earning money, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of our planet or any of the people living on it. To the contrary, big business has a central role to play in protecting the environment and upholding human rights.

It’s easy to talk about making change, but it’s what you do that matters and actually makes a difference. For me, a humanitarian is someone who wants a fair deal for people - who wants to help people who are not as well off as them. A humanitarian cares deeply about the wellbeing of society as a whole and every individual in it. You need to be willing to stick your neck out. You need to be able to put yourself in the position of someone else and think, “What would I do if that was me?” You also need to be brave enough to reach out and sometimes say, “I don’t understand, but I do care. I want to help in any way I can - tell me what you need.”

People sometimes think that they can’t do anything to effect change. Friends say to me “Why are you signing this petition? It won’t do anything.” One way you can guarantee not to make a difference is to do nothing. People are sometimes scared to stand up and put themselves out there. Political dialogue is divisive - people are believing the rhetoric that we should all look out for ourselves, that we should shut ourselves in and only look out for people who are ‘like us.’

The fact that you can now do so much online should mean that everyone is getting involved! It’s easier than ever to be part of making a difference. If everyone does their bit, I really believe that together we can make change.

About Annie Lawler

As well as teaching English, Annie runs a stress-relief company for people who are feeling overwhelmed. Annie is an avid campaigner and an active member of the CanDo community. She believes that we all have a role to play.