Doing What You Can

These stories, videos, etc., will hopefully encourage those who are fighting for a cause, either by themselves or in groups.

Stories / Newspaper Articles/ Songs / Videos

Mary Beth Tinker in 1965 and 2007
In December 1965, Mary Beth Tinker, a 13-year-old junior high school student,  and a group of students decided to wear black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. The school board passed a preemptive ban. When Mary Beth arrived at school on December 16, she was asked to remove the armband. When she refused, she was sent home.

Represented by the ACLU, the students and their families had a four-year court battle that ended in the landmark Supreme Court decision: Tinker v. Des Moines. On February 24, 1969 the Court ruled 7-2 that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

In this video, Mary Beth urges today's students to use their First Amendment rights to do what they can to make a difference -- to support Black Lives Matter, gun control and the environment.

December 26, 2017 Los Angeles - This celebrity barber Jason Schneidman gives free haircuts to the homeless. "So what I find with helping homeless people with haircuts is their appearances changes and their attitude changes. And then also the people around them see these people differently. "

December 6, 2016 New York City - Amos Oz on how artists can effect change today.

March 2015 At the United Nations, Meghan Markle told the story of how she started advocating for equality for women at age eleven. AND she was successful!

A story of how one scholarship turned into over 500. 

In the mid-1970s, a German woman living in Sweden by the name of Hilde Back, participated in an international sponsorship program organized by a group of Swedish nationals committed to helping Kenyan children from poor families pay for their education. A young boy, Chris Mburu from Mitahato Village in Githunguri Kiambu, was the recipient of Ms Hilde Back sponsorship.
Chris Mburu

Years later, Chris Mburu and other successful Kenyan professionals from Githunguri area founded the Hilde Back Education Fund as a give-back gesture to their community.

Here's a guide on helping someone who is being harassed. Here are the steps: 
1. start talking to the person being harassed - pick a random subject and keep talking. 
2. Keep building the safe space by talking while ignoring the attacker.
3. Escort the person being harassed to a safe place if necessary.  The Hummingbird and the Elephant – When Hummingbird hears that the sky is going to fall, she lies down and puts her feet in the air saying, “I’m ready to do my part and  hold up my piece of the sky.” (From "Holding Up the Sky" in Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About by Margaret Read MacDonald (North Haven, Connecticut: Linnet Books, 1992.) A retelling of “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eisley where a young girl teaches her mother that while they can’t save all the star fish washed up on the beach by a storm, they can save some. “For the rest of their lives, the daughter and the mother remembered the starfish. Whenever they were faced with new impossible task, they found as many people as they could to help, they all worked hard together, and they did what they could.”

This is a nonprofit which believes small acts can have a big impact.

Everyone can make real, positive change. Watch how David Vobora helps wounded warriors.

An 80-year-old Catholic Priest called Father Angel has opened a Restaurant in Madrid that takes money from the rich to feed the poor -- Welcome to Robin Hood Restaurant.  Cartoonist Sandra Boynton’s image titled “Offer whatever light you can.”

The book Swimmy by Leo Lionni. One little fish, Swimmy, teaches the other little fish to swim in formation. Thus they look like a huge fish. This “huge fish” scares away their predators. 

I included this video mainly as inspiration. Of course, as with any material which has a copyright, you must get permission from the book's publisher or author before you can tell it, except in cases of fair use. Click here for more information on fair use.

The Haitian folk tale “I'm Tipingee, She's Tipingee, We're Tipingee, Too” about a group of girls acting together to save one of them.

Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington 1/21/17 and the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, is opposed to the hate and divisiveness that is present in America today. She responds to some of the statements and actions made by those white supremacists. She also lists many things people can do to oppose the hate. “We all have a role to play.”

February 5, 2017 - New York City New Yorkers cleaned swastikas off a subway train because one man spoke up: “Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol." He found some tissues and got to work. Then many others also got to work. A man stands outside a mosque for a day with the sign “YOU BELONG. STAY STRONG. BE BLESSED. WE ARE ONE AMERICA.”

Here's a powerful and hopeful address by Valarie Kaur, storytelling for social change, at the National Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign Watch Night Service 12/31/2016. "What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead,, but a country that is waiting to be born?"

16 year old Lewis Hines in the UK had his first of 13 brain operations when it was discovered he had a brain tumor when he was 1 ½ years old. He continues to have brain seizures most days. However, he has coping mechanisms to meet his challenges. He found a project called Friend Finder to help children who miss a lot of school come together to make friends. He made this video to show it’s okay to be different. “My illness may define the length of my life, but it won’t define how I live it.”

At Boca Raton High School, no one eats lunch alone anymore. Senior Denis Estimon, who immigrated from Haiti 12 years ago,  and his friends started a group called “We Dine Together.” The campus has been transformed. “We reach the un-reached,” says teacher adviser Jordan Hernandez.


  1. I like the thought that everyone can contribute their unique gifts. Here are three musicians who brought humanity to desperate situations:
    Verdant Samlovic, the cellist of Sarajevo,, played after bombings and at funerals during the siege of Sarajevo, 1992
    more recently, Karim Wasfi, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, plays his cello in Baghdad bomb craters
    ▶ 1:29
    Markiyan Matsekh (2014) plays the piano, and arranges for others to play in front of riot police in Ukraine:

  2. Uli Derickson, a stewardess on hijacked TWA FLT 847 (1989) managed to connect with the hijackers. She happened to know German and Arabic, and was the only one on the plane who could communicate with them, because the only hijacker who could speak English had been bumped from the flight! Uli talked with them, heard about their families, and told them about her childhood as a hungry refugee, and on the spur of the moment, sang a popular post WWII German song was about having no home. The hijacker, surprised, said, “That’s what I feel like.” Her person-to-person connection calmed the hijackers, and while she was not able to save everyone on the flight, she did use her influence to minimize the violence and to get almost all of the hostages released.

  3. A Czech teenager confronts a neo-Nazi. She says, "You ask me if standing up to skinheads should be left to older people - well us, younger people, are going to be living here a lot longer than the older generation." This article also contains links to similar stories/photos.