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Writing To Raise Social Awareness

Updated on February 26, 2014

One of My Inspirations

If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.

Henry David Thoreau


Henry David Thoreau is perhaps best known for his book “Walden,” but it was another of his books, “Civil Disobedience,” that in part shaped me as a writer.

Long before I became known as a writer of writing tips, I was writing reflective pieces about society and trying to raise social awareness through my writings. This has always been the type of writing that fuels my soul, a writer taking nouns and verbs and combining them into messages that can propel people into action. For me it was Thoreau. When I was in high school and later in college, Thoreau spoke to me. He was a man of deep conviction and incredible foresight, calling for a simpler life, a simpler and more just government, and calling for a social conscience with regards to nature. To me, his were noble words…..powerful words….words that inspired and ignited those who would otherwise wallow in complacency and apathy.

I thought of his words as I marched in protest during the 1960’s. I thought of his words as I continued to work for social change as a teacher, and I think of his words today as I work at my craft of writing……

As I work at my craft of writing.

Will you speak out against political corruption?
Will you speak out against political corruption? | Source

More Inspiration

I heard someone say once, and it has stayed with me for decades, that writers are the voices of their generation. We are the recorders of history and we are the collective mirror of our time. There are 7.2 billion people on this planet, all adding to that history, but only a few chosen ones have the talent and capabilities to put into words that history. Think about that for a moment. Think of the responsibility that comes with being a writer in terms of our impact on society.

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

Henry David Thoreau

Simple truths from one man, a man with the gift of words, a man who used those words to awaken the citizens of his time and spur those citizens into action.

Our history has many examples of such men and women. Our own Constitution is a result of writers like Rousseau, Hobbes, and Locke, who saw injustice and wrote about a better way to govern and be governed. On through the years to the words of Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, Mandela, always questioning the status quo, always serving as that nagging reminder that injustice anywhere, anytime, is wrong and must be confronted, stirring the masses into action for the common good.

Will you speak out against the destruction of the environment?
Will you speak out against the destruction of the environment? | Source

A Call to Action

I cannot ignore my responsibility as a writer. I awoke one day understanding this fact, and that led me to the formation of H.O.W. (Humanity One World), a movement comprised of writers who believed in social change and who believed it to be their responsibility as well to speak out and affect much-needed change.

Now, perhaps, more than any other time in our history, we need writers to speak out. Complacency in society runs rampant. Apathy runs rampant. Fear dictates and from fear is born anger. Our freedoms are being stripped away by governments that have forgotten the basic creed that all men are created equal and that governments derive their power from the governed. These are truths that can never disappear or we are all lost.

Look around you and tell me that I am wrong. Corporations, and not the people, rule our lands. Horrific crimes are being perpetrated upon those who cannot defend themselves. The hungry increase in number daily, as do the homeless, Nature is being raped in the name of profit and greed, and the voice of the people is but a whisper compared to days gone by.

Who will speak out against all of this if not the writers? Who will cry out against injustice if not the voices of the generation?

I would submit to you, then, that it is my responsibility to do so. I would submit to you, then, that it is your responsibility to do so.

Will you speak out against crimes against children?
Will you speak out against crimes against children? | Source
Source

But I’m Not That Kind of Writer

I have heard this often. It goes something like this: “Bill, you write these types of articles so well, but I am just not that type of writer.” And I would say to those writers that we will never know if you do not try.

I believe being a writer carries with it a responsibility. I don’t care if you write recipes or travel articles or mothering tips. I believe you have a responsibility to affect social change. Far too many sit back and bemoan the current state of affairs but do nothing to change them. We, as writers, have been given a gift, and that gift must be used for the common good.

And so I’m calling on all of you to do so. Of course I do not expect you all to write exclusively about the wrongs of this world. I understand the need to make money and pay bills, and I understand that many write to their comfort level…..but…..perhaps you could at least try occasionally to raise awareness about some issue that you deem important.

But what’s the point you say? Nobody will pay any attention to your meager article about sex trafficking or child abuse or the destruction of our environment. Why even bother?

And to those I say, respectfully, that you are terribly wrong. If your article raises the awareness of just one person then it will have been worth writing. As writers we have the ability to raise the level of discourse in this world. As writers we have the ability to start conversations and debates, healthy conversations and debates that may give birth to other ideas and possible solutions.

Can You Do This?

Of course you can do it, but will you? Are you willing to leave your recipes and how-to articles once a week, or once a month, and climb to higher levels as a writer? Are you willing to try….just try….to be a voice of your generation?

I believe in the power of our words and you should too.

A little over a year ago I was contacted by my niece who lives near the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota, She told me some rather disturbing news about child abuse on that reservation, and she asked me to write an article about it. Why bother I thought? I’m just one man…a white man…and what good would it do for me to spend my time tilting at windmills about an issue that is happening 1,500 miles away?

Still, it was my niece, and so I did my research and I interviewed people and I wrote that article.

And then a remarkable thing happened……people read the article, and were incensed and saddened by the article…and they contacted others and those others read the article….and leaders were contacted and meetings were held and…..change happened. Today, although things are still not acceptable on that reservation, change is happening and the situation is better, and it is partially because of one article, written by one writer.

Do not tell me that writers cannot affect change. I will not believe you.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      I am so with you Bill and think they we writers definitely can make a difference and hope that we all can in our own small way at the end of the day. Thanks Bill for sharing and as always wishing you a great day ahead now!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always the first, Janine! Thank you my dear and enjoy your Wednesday.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      One writer can change the world and you dear Bill have proven that. Your written pieces continue to change the world and perhaps one person at a time you spread the word. As your writing spreads so does your message.

      What a wonderful writer (Thoreau) to emulate and admire.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

    • WD Curry lll profile image

      WD Curry lll 3 years ago from Brevard County, Florida

      Well, I got my start as that kind of writer, but it is discouraging at times to see so little effect. Thanks for the morale booster. Don't tell Big Brother that I snuck in here.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I believe if anyone could, you could; people listen to you and take you for the serious you are. You are a real leader billy, you not only get us in the spirit of the subject but you have everyone's respect.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, after reading this article I feel even better about the niche I've chosen: environmental issues and awareness. As you say, if one person is affected by our words, our words have not fallen on deaf ears.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Chip, it can be discouraging...and then suddenly I write an article like the one I mentioned and something actually happens and I'm like WHOA...what just happened here? I get downright pissed that more people don't get involved....but the only thing I know to do is write. Thanks for stopping by and I won't say a word to Big Brother. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you are too kind but thank you. I hope I make a difference; otherwise I have really wasted a lot of time. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, that is so nice of you to say. Thank you my friend; you just made my morning.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, keep writing...I believe in your work and I believe it will make a difference over time. I know it's important to you so don't stop.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for your support Bill. I'm actually off to work on my next post.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Write and be heard the best way to get out your important word to keep on putting out what you have on your mind

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Such a great message here. Yes, for sure, I agree that people will read and if you change the mind of one person, then you did your job. From my dog books, I've had people write to me and say that they were going to buy a dog, but after reading my book, they decided to adopt a dog... and sometimes they adopted two, or they decided to donate to dog rescue in honor of my dog Buddy, and so much more. All this work to save just ONE dog has been worth it to me. So yes, writing can change the minds of many. Awesome hub!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very cool Sha! Looking forward to it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, I know you understand this. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, I thought of you when I was writing this. We do make a difference. I just wish more writers would take it upon themselves to try and change things. I would love to see a writing revolution. :) Thank you for the difference that you make.

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      I agree that writers can make a difference by highlighting important issues that others may be unaware of. Conveying our message via print or the internet as we are doing via Hub pages is really the ideal way of raising social awareness.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 3 years ago from USA

      "Reaching just one person" makes me feel a little better. I've written two articles about social problems. One I finally deleted, because after the first week or so, no one read it. The other is still there about fracking. Almost no one reads it.

      I've got Walden sitting by my bedside planning on reading it again. Since it has set there for awhile with only a few chapters read, I need to get around to reading more of it.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great article. I am sure to many writers too often feel they are just pissing in the wind on these matters. But I respect them very much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Cecileportilla....did I read your latest? I remember it popping up but don't remember what it was about. I'll go check it out now. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Barbara Kay, it can be frustrating but I do believe we are making a difference. In some cases it has taken a year for something I wrote to be discovered...don't give up. The facking issue is an important one.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I come from a long line of wind-pissers, and I suspect you do as well. :) thanks my friend

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      dragonflycolor 3 years ago

      I am with you and will devote some of my time to writing about social issues. The horror in this country needs to stop and writers are the ones to help do it!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, there are writers, and then there are writers. You write with such passion and conviction, it's hard not to be energized by your words. You are the Pied piper and not every writer is as charismatic. However; It's worth giving it a try. How many of us can honestly say we've influence change to made something happen and made a difference?

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 3 years ago

      I thank you for this article. It has given me hope that my words will have an impact, even if I reach just one person. I am gong to print this article and refer to it each time I start to feel overwhelmed. Up, incredibly useful and awesome.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mari, bless you. You are a good writer and your voice will be heard. The more writers who do this sort of thing, the better the chance that action will be taken in the future. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, that is what I find so remarkable about writing. Our writings will last long after we have died, and our words will make a difference to future generations. Thank you for your kind words, but I happen to think you are an excellent writer as well. When you write about medical issues you are doing a wonderful service to the online world. Keep up the good work my friend.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      breakfastpop, I don't know if you know this, but I respect you for the articles that you write. You have conviction and you obviously care deeply about this country. Never stop writing. Some will disagree with you but that just means you are stirring the pot and producing conversations...and that will lead to action. Thank you for what you do.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, this subject is my favorite to write on for sure! If we do not take the responsibility upon ourselves to bring awareness by whatever means possible, then we are not doing our part! My heart is for those who cannot stand up for themselves and defend themenselves against others who are harming them. I truly believe, as I have stated before, we are all capable of doing something.

      I appreciate you sparing my lunch yesterday : ) , but today does turn my stomach while eating my lunch, when I see so much apathy. Thanks for giving it your all in your writing to spur all on!

      Blessings always,

      Faith Reaper

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Full of inner strength and persuasion. Carry on, my brother. God's peace and power be with you and yours.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Writing is one of those gifts that allow the gifted to keep on giving. When we use our words to lift someone up or help someone out, that's such a valuable gift we've given.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith my dear, I know where your heart is. Your compassion shines through in all of your words. Keep on keeping on my friend and I'll do the same.

      Thank you and hugs coming your way

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, thank you my friend. Peace be with you always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, you said it perfectly. There is nothing for me to add. Thank you!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

      I agree with you bill

      The pen is still mightier than the sword and creating awareness and welfare by words is better than blasts!

      I am with ya on HOW project and am marching along with my daily posts on T and W

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Every word is so true. Who should tell and try to get to people if not writers? Who will make people understand? I will try from time to time, even though it is easier to write about nicer things...

    • pearlmacb profile image

      pearlmacb 3 years ago from Switzerland

      such an important hub, I couldn`t agree with you more, it`s the very reason I myself write articles based on social injustice and poetry to raise awareness...it fuels my soul too! I appauled you for calling all writers to do the same. Bless you, thanks for making a difference, and I look forward to reading more related hubs :)

      voted up and shared on twitter

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 3 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Billy, I just love it when you get inspired to write pieces such as this one. Yes, we can change the world, on word at a time. I have seen it.

      The quote you made that almost had me in tears is this, "I believe being a writer carries with it a responsibility. I don’t care if you write recipes or travel articles or mothering tips. I believe you have a responsibility to affect social change."

      Thank you friend.

      I always wondered if there were other writers who felt the same way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I know you are, Ruchira, and I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate it. Bravo to you my friend and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      kerlund, thank you! I know, it is easier. I used to write heavy articles weekly but I simply cannot do it that often. I become depressed and start hating writing...so I now pace myself and do them once a month or so.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pearlmacb, thank you and greetings to Switzerland. I don't believe I have had a reader from there so welcome. Feeds the soul...that's the reason I write my friend. Without the passion there is nothing for me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Greg, I think there are, but they are few in number. I'm hoping to increase that number with this article. Cross your fingers buddy and thank you.

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      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      Great hub! I hope your words inspire more writers to write the occasional article about things they know need to be changed. Maybe some of them are afraid they'll seem too "in your face", but there are other ways to write about those things and get people thinking about the issues. A gentle nudge can be given by simply writing about a problem they see and then adding a few solutions as suggestions. There are also times just writing about their personal experience will get a few people thinking about what was said and they'll look for more information about how to get involved.

    • Robin Beck profile image

      Robin 3 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      Thoreau's Civil Disobedience should be required reading, especially these days. He is always so quotable and should be considered a world hero. Fortunately his book is still available (and free too) on Amazon. I can imagine that it must be copyright free by now. I consider myself to have grown up in the Protest Generation, and we had two heroes; Thoreau, and of course Bob Dylan.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Robin, of course....Dylan was the voice of a generation and one of my favorites. As for Thoreau...the man had sight into the future that few have had....a giant in my humble opinion. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, there is nothing for me to add to your comment. You are right on....most writers have the ability to make a difference. They just need to get out of their comfort zone and do it. Thank you!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I feel as you do, writing about the wrongs done against the poor is all i did when i first started writing. I loved writing for the HOW movement. When i see injustice against anyone or animals, i want to write about it. Thank you for all you write about, it inspires us to do more....

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great hub, Bill! We can all have an effect on our society. If we don't feel comfortable about writing about some of the disturbing events around us we can act. As a teacher, I went at least twice see my principal because of suspected cases of abuse. We shouldn't put our head in the sand when we see something wrong. We might save a life or make it better. Each of us has the power to change the world with our actions.

      Enjoy your evening, Bill!

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      Donna 3 years ago

      Great post! I will keep in mind my responsibility as a writer as I continue my journey.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Ruby. Tomorrow's article is dedicated to you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Joelle and you said a mouthful there my friend. We all have the power to affect change and I believe it is our responsibility to do so.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Donna and I hope your journey is a good one.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Bill, you took me on a journey. I thought back on some of the articles I have written and I'm glad to say that quite a few are of subjects like endangered species and corruption in politics. But you also brought to my forefront a need for me to write more and I thank you for that.

      Well done.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ann, for your commitment to important issues. I am encouraged by the response to this article.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for this important hub and for a great reminder to us all, Bill.

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      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      A great call for action Bill, asking writers to stand up for important issues they believe in. We can make a difference, we do make a difference. This may not be a good example because a lot of media is corrupt and self-serving. But look at the power the media has to affect everything including Governments....there are writers and journalists behind the scenes, who are changing and molding opinions every day. I write about what I believe in without compromise, as i know you do. I urge everyone else to as well. Great hub.

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      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      You are so good at putting across these messages using your compelling style and you are so right of course. I do admit that I stick to my usual stuff and rarely go off the beaten track. However, when I get incensed about something I'm more inclined to 'speak out'. It is worth it even, as you say, if it reaches just one person.

      I will therefore endeavour to respond to your call, bill.

      Our responsibility to observe and record is something with which I can identify strongly. It is for that reason that I keep a diary for each of my grandchildren, of their personal progress and achievements, of the way I respond to and think of them and of historical details which apply to them. They also get the odd reference to my background, what I do and why and my philosophies on life. I hope they appreciate it when they read them as adults, as an historical document if nothing else.

      I'm sharing this one as well as voting as always. Hope you have a great day, bill. Ann

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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, I am thinking seriously about this. Thank you for calling us up higher. I'm taking the challenge.

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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      I am right there with you Billy! Yesterday someone told me that I should volunteer at my son's school wink wink to get in with the administration. Maybe then they wouldn't give my Autistic son such a hard time. My response to that is why should I have to bribe a school to do their job and protect my son who has rights as a child with special needs.

      I got up this morning at the crack of dawn to start planning my next article. You are right! Writing about this sort of thing rarely pays the bills. But you know what, it energizes my efforts to keep the momentum forward. Because if just one person benefits, then that's a job well done in my book.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And I thank you, Alicia!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, your example is right on...the power of the press....thank you for writing from your heart, without compromise...we need more of you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I absolutely love that you keep a diary for each of your grandchildren. What a beautiful act of love that is. You have really touched me this morning by telling me that. Your grandchildren are going to grow older understanding the importance of love thanks to you. Well done my dear!

      Thank you and have a fabulous day.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! I thank you...and society thanks you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bravo Crafty....give them hell at school and raise awareness on the internet...and one-two punch that will surely bring results. I'm with you my friend....thank you!

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 3 years ago

      Hello Bill.

      Incentive. While you encourage others to write, simultaneously you give sample of successful accomplishment. You've spoken to me again.

      Useful , interesting.

      Stay blessed and keep warm.

      Right now we are at 8F, chill -11; forecast for tonight - 13F , with frostbiting wind gusting 25 m.- enjoying being among the best.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, bundle up and stay safe. Here we are enjoying sunshine and 56 F....we skipped right over winter here. :0

      Blessings always and of course, thank you.

      bill

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      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      I wrote an article for the local newspaper a while back about a group's efforts to raise money to replace the kitchen at a woman's shelter. Well, the kitchen got finished and I was invited to an open house last week to see it. The people there told me that after my article was published, they were inundated with donations and requests to help. According to them, my little article was the reason why the project was a success. (Although I think it probably would have been anyway.) But, gosh, did that make me feel good. Hearing how they thought I made a difference was so much more rewarding than the $100 or whatever it was the newspaper paid me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, what a great story. Thank you for sharing that. That is exactly what I am talking about in this article. Perfect example my friend and bravo to you for that article.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This is a great message, Bill. Yep, I can imagine that you protested in the 60s.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Flourish! It's nice to know I haven't lost that persona. :)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Awesome hub about writing to spread word of important things, Bill!

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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      You got me at the part where you mentioned, "But I'm not that kind of writer." That was what I was thinking all along, and then, whammo. You pose a great challenge regarding writing and responsibility.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok! I appreciate it.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      grand old lady.....I hope you give it a try. We need more good writers like you.

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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Billy, you and I know where our words go. You and I know that we can transform life, and bring hope. Sometimes it takes a little more than writing, to walk the walk, too. I have walked the walk with nature, and I am now walking the walk with a culture. Watch me change the world….

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I love it...watch me change the world! How cool is that? Thank you!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I'm even learning the language for this, Billy. How serious is that?

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very serious, Deb, and I thank you. :)

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      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I agree with your statement: a writer has a responsbility. I think back at how many writers have suffered and died because of their stand on social issues and justice. We can change the world.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, we can and we must. If not us, then who?

      Thank you dear friend.

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