I’m here today with a heavy heart as I was unable to continue to stand-by and remain silent after witnessing the current state of our world. With everything that has happened this year, including the effects of the pandemic, all the up to recent events with George Floyd as only one example of the many cases like his, it seems that everyone has a different mechanism of coping.
But no matter what is going on in the world, whether it be injustice or economic downfall or chaos, and no matter how you feel about it, whether you feel angry or saddened or deeply distressed – it simply does not matter if you don’t take action.
Yes, it is important to educate yourself, to keep up with the news, and to be aware of what is going on. To take in the information, to process it, and take it all in. In fact, I can’t emphasize the importance of education in the big-picture and long run enough, or understand why the children of poor parents receive lower quality education than rich parents, or why some school systems spend $30k while others spend $10k. No child deserves less education and although it is complicated, it is the very root of where it all begins, and the very thing that brings about open-mindedness and the ability to process information in an organized manner in order to make a real change.
But again, none of that matters if that’s all you do. Silence is compliance, and remaining ignorant or neutral is to take the side of the oppressor. If you are doing nothing, you are a part of the problem. Racial injustice has been going on for years and years as far back as time, and it is so disappointing that in all these years, absolutely nothing has changed. If all you do is intake the information, wallow in the pain, and that’s where it ends, then nothing is ever going to change.
The excuses are not relevant here.
If you think you would rather just live and let live, then this is a reminder that you do not have to wait until something affects you directly in order to care. If you think you just don’t have time, this is a reminder that you make time for what is important to you, and I pray that if the day comes that you are the one facing injustice, that someone else makes the time to stand up for you. If you think that although it’s horrible that a black man was killed, but destroying property has got to stop, this is a reminder that, in fact, although it’s horrible that property is being destroyed, the systematic killing of innocent black men is what has truly got to stop.
Understand this, let it fuel you, but do not stop there, because that will never lead to change.
Rather, all this will do is continue to make you angry, to intensify your emotions of hurt and pain, and then have nowhere for that emotion to go other than riot in a violent manner that actually hurts more people and continues the cycle of hate and hurt. So it’s good to be aware, and it’s good to have emotion – in fact, you need that anger, that pain, that emotional suffering to motivate you to take action – but if it’s not pushing you to take action then what is the point, and what is ever going to change?
I’ve heard a lot of people say that this violence is a reaction of their circumstances, that they have had too much violence inflicted upon them and that this is their reaction as a collective people, that since peaceful protesting has not made a difference, they now feel the need to burn down buildings and break glass and hurt other people and do whatever it takes to make their voice heard.
Your anger and your pain is justified.
But to think that violence is the answer, is to make a grave mistake. The notion that since peace didn’t work (i.e. those who make the reference to MLK stating that he was peaceful and still assassinated) is not the right mindset. Violence is also not a new solution – it’s literally something in which the entire world has a track record for failure! If you do not believe peace will solve the problem, I can reassure you that violence certainly will not either.
And so I say again, no matter what has happened to you, and no matter how you feel about it, none of it matters if you do not take correct action.
If we are ignorant, if we remain neutral, if we react with violence, nothing will change.
But if we try a different approach, if we come together as a collective to create change in a new way, then we might. By each person putting in effort in whatever capacity they are able to, one step at a time, one person at a time, we can create a ripple effect. By using our knowledge and our anger and refocusing it in the right way, change can and will occur – but it has to start with each person as an individual.
It starts within, through an understanding of how to process scary thoughts and difficult emotions. By this, I mean learning how to reflect in a calm manner despite all of your emotions. Keep in mind that you’re going to use these emotions – these powerful emotions – to provoke powerful change; yes. But in order to do it in the right way, we must learn to process this anger and our emotions in the right way first. And part of that is understanding the variety of different perspectives.
Every single person is going to react to each situation in a different way based on their experiences, based on their understanding, based on their level of consciousness, based on their level of education, based on the injustices and prejudices they have face throughout their life, based on the pain and suffering that they have undergone throughout their life…and it is so important to recognize that everyone has a different way to process the current circumstances.
Do not judge others based on their reactions, because that only creates more of a drift during a time when we need unity the most. Do not judge the 17-year old girl who recorded the George Floyd video which led to mass awareness and the firing of 4 police officers. Do not judge the person who posts about peace and love on social media because you think that does not matter. Do not judge those who turn to prayer just because you don’t believe in a higher power, because prayer can be extremely powerful – for the person who is praying.
Do not waste your precious time taking out your frustrations on judging and criticizing the actions of your fellow men and women because in that time, you can be doing something that is actually impactful, so just focus on doing your best. And honestly, in these trying times, I truly believe that everyone is just trying to do their best too.
But what can you do? If you cannot remain ignorant, if you cannot choose silence, if you cannot respond with violence, if you cannot take your anger out through judging others, what can you do? You can take appropriate action – no matter how small – action that starts within you.
Anyone who knows me, knows that my greatest passion, my biggest interest, my career and job and hobby, and everything that I stand for is centered around the improvement of mind, body and soul. But WHY do I make it my purpose? Because to reflect upon your spiritual essence and work on personal development, to prioritize your mind and mental health and holistic wellness, to actively work towards a higher level of consciousness – these are the first and most basic steps towards making a real change.
When each person becomes aware of who they are as a person and what truly matters in life, when each person learns how to process thoughts and emotions in the right way, when each person learns how to educate themselves and react properly to situations with a balance between feeling the anger and emotion, and knowing how to fuel it into proper action to actually make a change, that’s when the world changes.
So today, I urge you to take action.
Take whatever action you can, in whatever capacity you can. Do not underestimate the power of a small action, because that is what creates a ripple effect and leads to big change. Any small action is exponentially better than hiding behind your phone or laptop screen and doing nothing at all. And any small action can contribute. Whether that is informing yourself, whether that’s becoming aware yourself so that you can spread it in a positive way towards others, whether that is signing a petition or protest going to a protest, whatever it is try to take everything that you’ve gotten and do something no matter how small do something proactive about it because that’s the whole point and if every single person in the world did that, then obviously the world would be a much different place than it is today.
I do not know all the solutions for all of the problems happening in our world right now. I am just a girl trying to deal with it all in the best way I can. I understand the impact that the pandemic has had on all of this, and I am well aware that the problems are on a greater level than we can resolve overnight.
But I do know that educating yourself, learning how to repurpose your emotions for a greater cause, choosing love over and over until it is the only thing left, and taking small but consistent actions within yourself and as part of your local community, can help us to take one step in the right direction.
In these trying times amidst a global pandemic and war, I am reminded of my sister, my sweet guide and angel in heaven. Although I always believed in justice and equality, I feel guilty that I was never able to truly understand the magnitude of certain causes or become as consistently and relentlessly adamant in this pursuit as she was. But, I have learned so much about true love and freedom from her, and I will always do my very best to carry that forward.
I invite you to check out the local resources and petitions below and to donate or help in whatever capacity you can. Because no matter what is going on in the world around us, and no matter what you think or how you feel about it, it simply does not matter if you do not take action.