Awareness of problems and the fact that others are suffering is a good thing. It’s the first step—and a very necessary step—towards meaningful solutions and increased healing and comfort.
But it’s only the first step. Awareness in and of itself does not help solve a problem, and thinking otherwise can actually cause a lot of harm.
To be clear, I do not fault anyone for wearing a pink ribbon to raise cancer awareness, or to recognize a loved one who struggled or is struggling with this terrible taker of life. I understand and support the sentiments behind the ribbon, and I believe the cause of supporting cancer patients, cancer research, and the eventual and inevitable discovery of a cure (or cures) is an important one.
I also worry that for some people, wearing a ribbon and raising awareness is seen as action enough. Mussar teaches that we should “run to do good,” which is how we practice the Soul Trait of Enthusiasm.
There are lots of things we can all do to help those in our community who have been afflicted by cancer. Make meals for families who are struggling to get by with a debilitated parent. Visit children to read stories, to play games, to hold hands, and to listen. Volunteer with the Road to Recovery program and drive cancer patients to and from their treatments.
Real action is almost as easy as purchasing a ribbon to pin on, and it does a whole lot more to solve problems and create good in the world.
It might just bring you a whole new awareness of what you can achieve, as well.
Set yourself an intention: What is one small way that you can “run to do good” this week.