There’s a great bit from the comedian John Mulaney where he talks about the joy of “doing nothing.” It's so easy not to do anything! How many of us have spent our days off of school or work parked in front of the TV or computer, binge-watching Netflix for hours? Or, instead of committing to plans, checking “maybe” on a Facebook event so it’s okay when you decide, at the last minute, not to go?
We’ve been there. We get it. It feels great to do nothing sometimes, but eventually we feel that pull to get off the couch and do something.
So let’s talk about the “do something” people. People who spend their time off helping others, learning, teaching, and getting stuff done.
These are the teens with whom we spend our summers. There’s Marc and Adam, who after volunteering for an entire day with the Green Star Movement building a mosaic mural to beautify Chicago, reached out about coming back the next weekend to keep working. There’s Abby, Maya, and Zach, who pushed us to stay out longer registering residents to vote so they could push their elected official to support police accountability. There’s Jacob, who has spent the past three summers volunteering, acting as a leader to his peers, and making sorting mushy potatoes fun so more teens get involved. There’s Sydney, who worked to bring our discussions on root causes of oppression to their synagogue youth group to get more Jewish teens talking about important issues.
The leaders of Mobilize Chicago have been creating inspiring experiences for "do something" Jewish teens to get involved and make concrete change in their communities. Here are what some of these teens have had to say about their experiences:
"All of the programming helped me connect to my identity as someone who cares about social justice. They assisted me in building my identity as an organizer, activist, and advocate. They helped me learn about activities I can be a part of in my own community."
"It felt fantastic to accept my privileges and recognize them so I could use them strategically to lift up others' voices above my own."
"This experience guided me in mingling my passion for social justice and Jewish identity. My obligation as a Jew to heal the world around me had never been so clear as it was in the program."
"I feel much closer to my Judaism at the end of this program than I thought I would. It gave me an understanding of the importance of Shabbat from a justice and personal perspective."
"I would definitely recommend this program. I have learned so much, and it has deeply informed my perspectives and understanding of many issues."
It can be easy to choose to do nothing, but it is invigorating and refreshing to stand up and take action. Teens like the ones we’ve described here start by just showing up to the first program and listening, by building community and asking questions. Everyone comes with different experiences and identities, but all feel a passion for trying new things, and a drive to make the world a better place.
So give it a shot! Get up, take a chance, and Mobilize.