NEW YORK — The divisiveness that continues to pull at the seams of the nation’s fabric is leaving many feeling hopeless about the future. According to a new survey, two-thirds of Americans don’t believe they’ll see positive social change during their lifetime.
The survey of 2,000 people reveals that 67 percent are not optimistic about seeing changes occur, but they still want to leave a better world for the next generation. When asked which social issues they currently find to be the most important, health care (43%) topped the list, followed closely by gun violence (41%).
Rounding out the top five are racial injustice and domestic violence (tied for third, at 39%) and poverty and homelessness (38%). It’s worth noting that the top five issues respondents identified are all within five percent of each other, showing that many of these challenging issues are viewed with an almost equal level of importance.
These issues can fluctuate, too: 64 percent say current events, and those shown on the news, can change which issues they find to be the most important.
Taking action for social change
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Avocado Green Mattress, the survey coincided with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — and 66 percent say reproductive rights are currently a higher priority for them.
That’s not the only current event affecting which issues people find the most important: 59 percent think gun violence is a higher priority for them because of recent shootings, while 43 percent are paying more attention to LGBTQ+ rights because of Pride Month in June — this may also be due to legislative changes at the state level.
The survey not only asked which social issues respondents find most important, but it also looked at the actions people are taking to help affect change. Over half the poll (57%) do believe their actions can truly affect social change, and 73 percent say that when it comes to creating change, small actions are just as important as big actions.
“These issues are big and daunting, with no easy solutions,” says Mark Abrials, Avocado Green Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, in a statement. “But we also know that our collective individual, small actions can add up to a really big positive impact.”
Fifty-one percent of respondents say they’re actively taking action to help create social change — while another 25 percent would like to. When asked what actions they’re taking, 45 percent are boycotting brands or companies who donate to groups or support legislation they disagree with.
The same number (45%) are ensuring when they vote, the candidates they support are people who align with their ideals. Nearly as many (43%) are standing up for social issues they believe in by calling out loved ones who say things they personally disagree with. Respondents are also taking action by both voting and by educating themselves on these issues (tied at 42%).
Even then, 72 percent believe that to create real social change, they need more than just individuals involved in the process — those respondents believe they also need involvement from the federal government (58%), local governments (57%), and local action groups (55%).
“We know what’s on the line, and that we all must do our part,” Abrials says.