The World We Create
Updated: Oct 16, 2020
This country actually belongs to no one group of people. Though many have tried to claim it as theirs to rule, that failed experiment was built on a very unsteady foundation of exclusion, destruction, disenfranchisement and disregard. And it perpetuated a belief system that allowed humans of different colors to wholeheartedly believe that they are on separate sides of a territorial battle. In 2020, we witnessed yet another racially-charged killing by those given the responsibility to protect us. And it lit this nation on fire, the unsteady foundation exposed, and far too many of us wondering how we ever find our way out of this.
This country belongs to each and every one of us. And now more than ever, we need to start acting like it. We need to accept responsibility for the world that we live in. We need to accept responsibility for how we treat each other. We need to accept responsibility for how our own behaviors negatively impact the planet itself and those who we must share it with. Anything less is a complete dereliction of duty. As citizens who want to live a world of equality and justice, we have no choice but be responsible for making those wants and desires a reality. So how do we begin? How do we go about creating the world and the life that we want?
Listen and learn about the past. Ask the good questions about why things are the way they are and what happened along the way to create the divisions that we all experience. Read. And then read some more. Make it your business to read the words and hear the voices of those who have traditionally been excluded, overlooked, blamed or vilified.
Stop accepting what is wrong as inevitable and look at what part you play in making it different the next time. Margaret Mead famously said "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." I agree.
Seek out the counsel, knowledge and leadership of those you are least like. There is more to be learned in a group where each brings a new perspective to the table. And when you come to that table, be prepared to share your own experiences. Others can and should learn from you, too.
Assume nothing simply because of what you see. Accept the simple fact that there is more that you don't know about others than what you do. And we will never know how another feels because we don't have the opportunity to walk in their shoes. But we can listen. And we can suspend judgment. And we can offer support. And we can always seek to understand their truth, if only for that moment.
Call out those who don't play by the rules, especially those with some level of power. We call them out by voting them out. We call them out by protesting what we believe to be wrong. We call them out by removing their platform to spread division and lies and hatred. We call them out be refusing to allow their negative/hurtful/blatantly wrong ideology to win.
Allow for others to have a different opinion. You don't have to like it, but accept that in a diverse world, we have diverse opinions that we are each entitled to. It can be very hard to deal with people who don't share your values, or the values of the majority. But they are part of our world, too. They can be respected without elevating their views that present a danger to the greater good.
We need to find allies. We need to support our allies. Most of all, we need to be allies. There are so many without a voice and far from the reaches of power. Their voices and concerns will never be heard without the work of allies to hear them and elevate them. Good allies offer a most powerful tool that we often forget we have at our disposal - compassion.
Never underestimate the power of a single act on your part. If you want to see more kindness in the world, be more kind. If you want to promote racial healing and equality, be someone who spreads that message as far and wide as your single megaphone allows. Your own words and deeds set the tone - in your home, in your neighborhood, in your corner of the world - so make sure that tone that you spread is the one you are hoping to also hear from others.
This country is a reflection of what we have come to believe and what we have learned to accept. If we don't like what we see, and we are no longer happy with what is considered acceptable, then it is our responsibility to step in and change it. Let's take the time and use our energy to make this world a place for all of us. There is no time to waste.