Words That Make A Difference: Blog Action Day 2008

Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times - times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation - that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils.

Nelson Mandela

What difference can words possibly make in the face of such problems?

With our words, with our writing we can:

Tell stories

State facts

Ask questions

Lobby governments

Stir consciences

Change minds

Move hearts

Inspire others

Demand answers

Acknowledge experience

Suggest possibility

Invite giving

Connect changemakers

Demonstrate humanity

Humanise problems

Open eyes

Challenge apathy

Encourage debate

Showcase innovation

Share solutions

Words give us the potential to make a difference.  It’s what’s driving just under 9,000 bloggers around the world to take part in Blog Action Day.  Looking for the words to change the conversation, and make a lasting difference.

Powerful words change things.

Mandela’s words give a sense of power, of possibility, of necessity.

In this new century, millions of people in the world’s poorest countries remain imprisoned, enslaved, and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free.

Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.

And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.

While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.

But words on their own are not enough.  Mandela’s plea was for action, not words.  A plea to world leaders - and to a whole generation.

I say to all those leaders: do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognise that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision…

Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.

Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up.

So share words today. Write, link, comment and connect. Teach, read, inspire and learn.

But don’t forget to work out what you’ll do, once tomorrow dawns.

October 15th is Blog Action Day.  This year the campaign theme is poverty.

Nelson Mandela quotes are extracts from the speech he delivered in 2005 as part of the Make Poverty History campaign.  You can read the full speech here.

For ideas and inspiration on things you can do: some posts from Blog Action Day.  Thousands more on their site to chose from.

10 Things You Can Do To Make Poverty History by Wonderwebby

Blog Action Day Challenge: Look, See, Do Something by Amy Derby

Fight Poverty by Promoting Education by On Simplicity

When Did You Last Show Anyone How to Fish? by Janice Cartier

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

Joanna Paterson is a writer, photograph and journal coach who provides resources to help people tap into the rich seam of their natural creativity and express themselves with confidence. You can find more of her work at Nature’s Fire.

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29 Responses to “Words That Make A Difference: Blog Action Day 2008”

  1. On October 15, 2008 at 8:27 am Lori Cole responded with... #

    This is a wonderfully succinct and moving post.

  2. On October 15, 2008 at 8:31 am Issachar responded with... #

    “With our words, with our writing we can”
    Wow! I am very inspired by your posting about Words for Blog Action Day 2008.
    Specifically, the 20 verbs that lists possible actions.

    Issachars last blog post..Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty No More

  3. On October 15, 2008 at 8:41 am Easton Ellsworth responded with... #

    Faith works by words. We do things after we say, “I’m gonna do that.”

    Great article Joanna - thank you so much!

  4. On October 15, 2008 at 8:52 am kouji haiku responded with... #

    indeed. just put up my haiku post for blog action day.

    and in addition, for now, i turn to sites like freerice, kiva, and goodsearch, as ways to help alleviate poverty online.

    saw this post via the front page of blog action day. it’s great that you’re participating. :)

    kouji haikus last blog post..haiku poem

  5. On October 15, 2008 at 12:35 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Joanna, Your words are well chosen - all verbs. Many hands make short work.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Do You Have a Pet Phrase?

  6. On October 15, 2008 at 1:08 pm Robert Hruzek responded with... #

    Inspiring list of possible calls to action - there’s something here for anyone. Great work, Joanna!


    Robert Hruzeks last blog post..It’s Time

  7. On October 15, 2008 at 1:22 pm Karen Swim responded with... #

    Joanna, I was so moved by your post. I am also impressed at how you took this theme and tied it to writing and seamlessly integrated it right into the flow of this month’s theme. Your post really energized me all over again at how we can make a difference with our words. Well done Joanna!

    Karen Swims last blog post..5 Sizzling Tips to Fire Up Your Marketing

  8. On October 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm Karen Putz responded with... #

    “Powerful words change things.” Indeed, they do!

    Karen Putzs last blog post..Blog Action Day–Taking Action to Make a Difference

  9. On October 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm SpaceAgeSage -- Lori responded with... #

    “Words give us the potential to make a difference.”

    I’ve always loved the power of words! Yours ring with it today.

    SpaceAgeSage — Loris last blog post..Yes, I survived the week-long media fast — and learned lots!

  10. On October 15, 2008 at 4:53 pm Amy Derby responded with... #

    Hi Joanna,

    I enjoyed the Mandela quotes, your list of actions, and of course the reminder that words are powerful. :-)

    Amy Derbys last blog post..Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Conquering Stress Addiction

  11. On October 15, 2008 at 5:15 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Lori, hello, and thank you.

    Issachar, hello. Glad you liked the verbs. Action words seemed appropriate today.

    Easton - how on earth did you find time to comment! Congratulations on a successful BAD.

    kouji, hello, and thank you for the feedback.

    Brad, I like the connection of short sentences and making short work :-)

    Robert, thanks, and for writing such a thought provoking piece this morning

    Karen, thank you for noticing :-)

    Karen (Putz), indeed. Your words moved me greatly today.

    Lori, thanks. I wanted to keep it short and sweet with a focus on what’s possible… Hope it worked

    Amy, thanks. I enjoyed your contribution greatly too. It was a good wake up call.

  12. On October 15, 2008 at 5:23 pm Robyn responded with... #

    Joanna, you show that our inspiration to take action and do something against poverty begins with words.

    Thanks for the beautiful “Verbal Capital” you bring to inspire all!

    Robyns last blog post..Education - Power to Fight Inner City Poverty - Blog Action Day

  13. On October 15, 2008 at 5:33 pm Cath Lawson responded with... #

    Hi Joanna - that was really inspiring. It too wish our governments would put as much money into helping people as they do into killing people.

  14. On October 15, 2008 at 5:49 pm yasmin responded with... #

    Powerful words change things.

    Yes they do…and in reading that I thought of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech.

  15. On October 15, 2008 at 6:33 pm Ellen Weber responded with... #

    Wow — I love these power packed words, Joanna. Which is your favorite? Mine is INSPIRE:-)

    Ellen Webers last blog post..10 Marks of Mental Poverty on Blog Action Day

  16. On October 15, 2008 at 11:01 pm Janice Cartier responded with... #

    Joanna- I am bookmarking this post for the list you made. Honestly, it’s a succinct actionable list to keep at the fore front with no quibbling about it…such an abundance of great efforts today this one included.;-)
    My post seems not to be in Comment luv so just click on my name for today’s post on teaching a man to fish.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Primary Colors Put To Work

  17. On October 16, 2008 at 8:52 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Robyn, verbal capital - what a great concept. I’m going to store that one away for future use!

    Cath, thanks. I enjoyed your piece too. As consumers get more concerned businesses get more sneaky, which means we need to keep a really close eye on what they’re doing to make sure we’re not having the wool pulled over our eyes

    Yasmin, I know what you mean. I think Mandela’s words have some of that same power. I’d say it was because they were drawing on a very powerful source (of belief, faith, hope, strength) coupled with a very powerful vision of how things could be different.

    Jan, and thanks for mentioning your post. It’s tremendous. Here’s the link everyone

    Oh, and hello :-)

    Ellen, that’s a good question. I think mine is ‘invite’. Quiet invitations can work wonders.

  18. On October 16, 2008 at 11:57 am wilson responded with... #

    Joanna, it’s time to open our eyes and show those unfortunate people some concern…

    By the way, I will involve myself in this blog action day as well :)

    wilsons last blog post..It is Cushing’s Syndrome, Not Crushing’s Syndrome!

  19. On October 16, 2008 at 4:23 pm Jeanne Dininni responded with... #


    Wonderful post — and beautifully written! Thanks for sharing, in such an inspiring way, the thought that, as critical as words can be in the fight against poverty, we can’t stop there.

    Just as well-chosen words can give our thoughts wings, causing our readers to soar to new intellectual, emotional, and ideological heights, action can give those thoughts arms, legs, hands, and feet with which we may get out among the suffering and really make a difference.


  20. On October 16, 2008 at 9:29 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Wilson, I think it’s beenn a good way to share ideas and perspectives. I hope you manage to get the chance to contribute too.

    Jeanne, thank you. I do believe words can change things - but only in that they lead to us behave differently out there in the ‘real’ world.

  21. On October 17, 2008 at 1:14 am Jeanne Dininni responded with... #


    I totally agree with you!

    By the way, we seem to have lost paragraph formatting again. :(


  22. On October 17, 2008 at 8:37 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Jeanne - arggh!

  23. On October 17, 2008 at 9:24 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Jeanne - cracked it! Just the teeniest bit of code.

    I forgot I’d undone it when I made another change the other day.

    Thanks for the reminder. Glad I was able to remember how to fix it again!

  24. On October 17, 2008 at 9:55 pm Jeanne Dininni responded with... #

    Great, Joanna! I’m glad you remembered how to fix it, too! :-)



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