The world has too few people who are solution-oriented. It's easy to get caught up in the problems of our time and feel overwhelmed by them. Or worse, to become jaded and cynical and then develop "Cheems Mindset" by shooting down all potential improvements as "unrealistic".
This page is the antidote I take when I notice similar sentiments appearing in my own head. It's a reminder of the ever-present opportunity we all have to effect positive change.
Remember: all progress seemed impossible, until it wasn't. We have more knowledge, experience, and tooling than at any preceding point in history. We have greatly expanded access to the democratic process. We have the Internet now! We have more reason to be optimistic in our ability to make a difference than ever before.
What we do not have is a guarantee of progress. It's time to do our part.
The fastest, most immediate action you can take right now is to donate. For example:
- GiveWell's Top Charities Fund supports interventions that do the most good for improving global health and reducing poverty.
- The Global Catastrophic Risks Fund from Founder's Pledge focuses on reducing existential risks, like nuclear war and catastrophic pandemics.
- (Whichever political entity you think has the best theory of systemic change and the ability + willingness to bring it about.)
Sometimes what's needed is a reminder of the difference you can make. Near-term results are key for sustaining long-term commitments, by giving positive reinforcement within human-scale feedback loops.
Local volunteering often isn't globally optimal but it reaffirms the identity of being someone who does their part. It's viscerally satisfying to see a blighted neighborhood be restored to splendor. Rather than being limited by our biology, we can transcend it. Link the short-term joy of volunteering to the long-term impact of your donations and career.
Pick a local cause area that matters to you. For example:
If you're interested in how to orient your career towards doing more good, start with this summary of Effective Altruism. For thoughtful critiques of this approach to doing good, see this post, this one, and this article.