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Last week, Glenn Beck did something really awesome.

On his program, Beck asked his enormous network of supporters to join him in organizing a major effort to bring food, water, and toys to churches and other organizations caring for the undocumented immigrant children who’ve have been in the news.

As reported at his website, The Blaze, Beck explained his reasoning:

Through no fault of their own, [the immigrant children] are caught in political crossfire. And while we continue to put pressure on Washington and change its course of lawlessness, we must also help. It is not either, or. It is both. We have to be active in the political game, and we must open our hearts.

I don’t pretend to know all of Beck’s views on immigration. But I do know that what he’s doing here is absolutely fantastic. Beck is using his own resources to bring real help to people in need regardless of what the government does or what the children’s legal situation is.

I love it on a political level as a libertarian who doesn’t have much faith in DC to fix this mess—and I love it on a theological level as a Christian who has been called to care for “the least of these.”

This willingness to step up to the plate regardless of what government does or doesn’t do is a practice we can apply in so many other areas of life and politics.

Teenage Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, while visiting The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, expressed this possibility perfectly when she explained why she took action:

Why shall I wait for someone else? Why shall I be looking to the government or the army that they will help us? Why don’t I raise my voice? Why won’t we speak up for our rights?

We should be inspired by Malala to ask the same questions: Why should we wait for Washington to act? Why should we look to the government to fix our problems? To order our society? To decide what’s good for our families?

Why don’t we raise our voices?

Government is notoriously lethargic. It’s simply not practical to wait for every problem to be solved by the state or for top-down solutions to emerge. While DC is busy wasting and waffling, we can actually make a difference in our communities and around the world:

  • If you care about bringing peace and prosperity to the Middle East, put your money where your mouth is. Organizations like World Vision, Operation USA, Direct Relief, and more work in war-torn and generally impoverished areas worldwide to provide much-needed relief aid. If you’re not sure where to give, check out www.CharityNavigator.com. Personally, I like to support aid to regions where my own government is a source of the conflict. I may not be able to convince Washington to stop their wars, but at least with a tax-deductible donation I can divert a little bit of money away from the war chest and toward peacemaking activities.
  • If you care about inflation and crony capitalism, reevaluate where you bank. Particularly if you use a national or regional bank, look into your bank’s history of interaction with the government, and especially with the Federal Reserve. Are you banking at an institution that contributed to the financial crisis? Does your bank make risky loans that leave low-income families homeless? Local banks and credit unions are much more likely to be a positive financial force in your area. You may also want to look at what kind of special treatment and subsidies other businesses you frequent get from the federal, state, and local government.
  • If you care about health care, poverty, and abortion, does your lifestyle make that obvious? Do you buy goods and services with the producers in mind? Do you take care of family and church members who can no longer work or have hit hard times? Would you open your home to a single mother-to-be needing a place to stay? Would you give her rides to pre-natal check-ups? Would you pay for those check-ups? Are you willing to actually lower your own standard of living to raise someone else’s? In short, do you truly live a charitable lifestyle—or do you just have inspiring political ideals?

Politics is important. It’s a big part of my life. I write and think about it all the time.

But politics only gets us so far.

If we really want to make the world freer, safer, and more prosperous—let’s stop waiting for the government to fix our problems and fix them ourselves.

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