Take a look around, and you might notice that we are making a mess of things. By "things," I mean our world. And by "we," I mean all of us together -- left, right and center.
Our current media conversation is fast becoming a nasty, partisan free-for-all in which we mostly divide into enemy camps in order to conquer or gain any higher ground or small electoral advantage. Yet more than ever in my lifetime, we collectively face a number very real and profoundly serious issues. Clearly, this is a time in American and global history that cries out for us all to pull together and take action. And yet . . . not so much.
Angrily pointing fingers at one another isn't really taking action. Loudly blaming everything on our current President by serving up a dangerous combination platter of fear and hate doesn't help at all. By the same token, just waiting for this -- or any -- President to do everything for us isn't going to improve things either.
Now that we're all depressed, what the hell are we going to do? Today, I have a semi-modest proposal for the next generation of teens and twentysomethings -- those same young Americans who are likely to inherit this big mess: Do something. Do something to help that matters to you personally. Do something for the sick. Do something for the poorest or most disadvantaged among us. Do something in your hometown, or anywhere else in a world of hurt. Do something for our troops who have been asked to sacrifice so much for too long. Do something for human rights. Do something for animal rights. Do something nice like read books to someone in your town who can't read -- or help teach people how to read so they can do something new for themselves. But whatever you do -- do it now.
On Monday night July 19, I'll be working behind the scenes on a groovy thing -- VH1's first-ever live television presentation of The Do Something Awards, an entertaining and inspiring event hosted by one of the funniest and nicest people on earth -- Jane Lynch of Glee fame that airs at 9PM. The show will feature all sorts of stars from George Lopez to Snoop to Twilight's Kellan Lutz and lots of cool music from Travie McCoy with Bruno Mars, Lifehouse and Natasha Bedingfield, as well as "inspirational" moments from Bret Michaels and the cast of Jersey Shore that may make you think, but more likely will just make you laugh.
Do Something is a national non-for-profit youth organization that's been around for nearly a decade doing their part to help motivate and support young people to get more involved in their communities, their country and their world. Even with all the familiar famous faces you'll see on The Do Something Awards, five of these outstanding young people are at the very heart of Monday's show for their good works. And by the end of evening, Jane Lynch will announce one of these five impressive young Do Something Award finalists as the winner of $100,000 grant to help continue their work live on the air. I semi-humbly suggest that you not only watch the show on VH1, but also follow Do Something at dosomething.org, on Twitter at @DoSomething, where you can follow all the #dsawards action in real time, or just go to http://www.dosomething.vh1.com.
As a parent, I cannot see giving up on our world as an attractive or even viable option. My wife and I have two genuinely beautiful children. I look at them -- and their only slightly less beautiful friends -- and I feel something very much like hope. As a group, these kids seem remarkably untainted by the petty prejudices that seem to divide so many of us now. For instance, these young people don't seem hung up about anyone else's race, or religion or sexual orientation. With the possible exception of their rather frightening love of "reality" television, these kids are alright by me. I can only think, hope and pray that this next generation will do something better than we're doing right now. Because if they don't, there may not be too many more generations to worry about.
When I was about the age our kids are now, my parents took me to see Pete Seeger speak and sing as I got my first lessons in ecology on the Clearwater sloop on the Hudson River. I believe that's the first time I ever heard the song "If I Had A Hammer." I'm ashamed to say that I don't think I've ever played that song for my kids. Let's all make sure that our kids understand that they do have a hammer, and that they ought to be using it to build a better world now.
Come on, Young Americans, do something. Do the right thing, and do it with "A Little Less Conversation" and little more action.
A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION - Elvis Presley
YOUNG AMERICANS - David Bowie
PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER - Patti Smith
WHAT YOU GIVE AWAY - Vince Gill
WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING - Infant Sorrow
LEAN ON ME - Bill Withers
LET'S SEE ACTION - The Who
HELP THE POOR - B.B. King & Eric Clapton
LEND A HAND - Jakob Dylan
WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU? - Bob Dylan
GIVE IT AWAY - Red Hot Chili Peppers
WORKING ON A GROOVY THING - The 5th Dimension
SOMETHING IN THE AIR - Thunderclap Newman
BEAUTIFUL DAY - U2
THE HOUSE I LIVE IN - Frank Sinatra
ISN'T IT A PITY - George Harrison
GET UP, STAND UP - Bob Marley
THE RISING - Bruce Springsteen
UMI SAYS - Mos Def
DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' - Journey
BELIEVE IN HUMANITY - Carole King
CLIMB THAT HILL - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
MAN IN THE MIRROR - Michael Jackson
WHO'S GONNA HELP BROTHER GET FURTHER - Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
DO SOMETHING - The Eagles
LITTLE WONDERS - Rob Thomas
SOWING THE SEEDS OF LOVE - Tears For Fears
LET'S WORK TOGETHER - Canned Heat
TAKE THIS BREAD - The Felice Brothers
I CAN HELP - Billy Swan
GET TOGETHER - The Youngbloods
RIGHT NOW - Van Halen
HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER - Neil Diamond
ONE WORLD - Utopia
BREAK THE SPELL - Gogol Bordello
COME TOGETHER - The Beatles
REACH OUT OF THE DARKNESS - Friend & Lover
EVERYBODY HURTS - R.E.M.
SHOWER THE PEOPLE - James Taylor
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW - Aimee Mann
PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART - Jackie DeShannon
IF I HAD A HAMMER - The Weavers
Please take action right now and join this "Conversation"