The question has become so common, we now have a growing list of practical actions you can take. But the best contribution you could make is probably unique to you. The best way to find out what to do is think. And the best way to think is with paper and pen. Read more about that here.
Specifically, write the following at the top of a blank sheet of paper: "What are my interests and talents?" Make a list of what you're good at, what you are knowledgeable about, and what you like to do.
Then get another piece of paper and ask, "What problems need to be solved? What is needed?" Make another list. Depending on how serious you are, this process could take fifteen minutes, or many hours.
Put your list in order from most important (or most interesting to you) to the least.
Now pick the number one problem (or need) and head another sheet of paper with this question: "How can I use my strengths, interests, and knowledge (from the first list) to solve this problem?" Make a list. Write the numbers one through ten. Force yourself to fill in all ten spots with an idea. Tomorrow do it again. Do it every day for a week.
Now look through your list and pick the best one. Then tell someone your idea. Write an editorial and submit it, tell your friends about it, send the idea to your senator or some other political person working on the problem, or send it to us here at CitizenWarrior.com and if it has merit, we'll post it. What does an ordinary citizen do who wants to do something about terrorism? Here are some examples:
Example number one is an accountant, a father of two kids, and recently divorced. He is good with people, energetic, and loves to both learn and teach. The biggest problem he saw (right after September 11th) was the safety of planes. He has decided to use his energy, his desire to learn, and his people skills to learn what he can about airplane security and think up ways it can be improved. That will become his part-time passion. He can't devote himself full-time to it. He still needs to work and spend time with his kids. But he can work on the problems, learn about the situation, and brainstorm for ideas during some of those hours he normally spends watching TV.
"But," you might ask, "how will he come up with something the airplane experts haven't thought of?" Well, maybe he won't. But then again, maybe he will. Of course, he never will if he assumes he can't. But if he tries, he can surely come up with some ideas, and he can send them out on the internet or to the editor of Aviation Safety magazine or to his representatives (this is where his people skills and interest in teaching come into play).
People outside a field can sometimes come up with solutions that the experts in the field didn't think of.
Example number two: A woman with sales experience is now a hairdresser. She's good at organizing, has a strong ability to focus, and good at managing her personal finances. The problem she is most interested in is how to prevent another Jihadi terrorist attack, but that is too big. The goal is too broad. No one person can accomplish that goal. She could become a motivational speaker and motivate others to work on the problem or even simply interact with her hairdresser clients and get them fired up about it, handing out brochures from AFA to those who are interested, for example.
But in her case, she got more specific. She asked herself, "What part can I play in preventing another attack?" She had been reading a lot and concluded that part of the reason Jihadis are so powerful is that the U.S. government gives too much support to non-democratic governments like Saudi Arabia. She thinks there is a better way to deal with the situation, so she starts learning more about it, thinking up ideas, and discussing them with her clients, who enjoy the involvement and who contribute some original ideas.
She starts writing to her representatives regularly, making well-reasoned and educated arguments in favor of new foreign policies. She is fighting jihad at its root, as far as she is concerned. And if only one idea she suggests makes it into congress and gets adopted by the government, it could make a difference in the long run to millions of people.
But if she makes the assumption, as most of us have, that "little ol' me can't have an effect on national or global events," then she needs to straighten out her thinking before she goes any further. She should undemoralize herself by reading Morale For The Citizen Warrior, because her pessimistic assumption will remove any impulse to try, and if she doesn't try, she won't accomplish what she could really accomplish.
Do these ideas seem too vague, too distant? Perhaps you're looking for something you could do that might be more immediate? Easier? Something you could do right now? Go to: What Can a Civilian Really Do To Stop Islam's Relentless Encroachment?
And you can generate new ideas by doing something most of us don't like to do: Think.
It's not that thinking is an unpleasant activity. In fact it can be very enjoyable, especially when you come up with something ingenious. But it takes some discipline and persistence. Most of us would prefer it if someone just gave us a good idea and we could just go do it. That's why I ask you to please send us ideas you think of.