Holy smokes, the last week has been rough.
I keep wondering how we went from the first President of color to a Nazi-sympathizer in less than nine months. You can’t even gestate a baby that fast. And the anti-Semitic chants from the Charlottesville protesters won’t stop banging around in my mind. Nor will the face of Heather Heyer, who died trying to make the world a less hateful place.
And all this comes on top of the grim climate change report and the realization that our Commander in Chief was invited by his frenemy Kim Jong Un to play a rousing game of real-life Battleship.
Woof. It’s a lot.
So much, actually, that I think I’ve cycled through the five stages of grief, all the fight/flight/freeze responses, sleeplessness, anxiety, mild constipation (joke), and I’m finally getting a grip and realizing that after all that, I’m oddly inspired. I’m not talking about the traditional feel-good, slow-mo-through-the-finish-line motivational poster kind of inspiring, but it’s sincerely rousing nevertheless.
I mean, what a world we live in! One that is so fraught with opportunity to be better. In fact, it’s pretty extraordinary how we’ve managed to create a reality where even with the most minimal effort, tomorrow could be better than today. That’s exciting! If you think about it, it’s like someone is holding the leg of a superhero suit, ready for us to step in.
Friends, we’re being served a revolution on a silver platter, and it’s time for us to devour it.
I totally get that a piping hot dish served with perfect presentation warrants a pearl clutch and begs a perfectly filtered Instagram photo, but we don’t have that kind of time. We can’t sit around lamenting our failure for letting it get to this point. We can’t fear that our engagement must be perfectly polite. We can’t let timid silence, petrified perfectionism or our own shrinking sense of safety be the end of us.
We all must act.
Now, not all actions have to be as bold and direct as marching in the streets (although that’s powerful, too). Meaningful engagement can be smiling more at strangers, making it known that you’re someone others need not fear. It can be supporting the organizations doing the work on the frontlines to eradicate hate and lobby for environmental protections. Or Googling reading lists that will help you understand how racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and other isms really affect the others’ lives. It can mean speaking up when you hear or see discrimination. Not trying or pretending to be colorblind, which denies people their lived experiences and oftentimes their culture and heritage. Teaching your kids how to find commonalities and simultaneously how to celebrate differences. It could even be attending someone else’s church instead of always your own. It’s listening. And it’s always (always!) voting.
If there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that the intensity of our public discourse heightens as we divide, probably because we have to be so much louder to be heard from so far away. But, when we increase the volume instead of decreasing the distance, we fuel the ignorance-inspired hatred that’s tearing through our communities leaving bodies in its wake.
The terror must end. And we must stop it. Because in a world with such an abundance of love and determination to eradicate that which infects our deepest human instincts to take care of one another, I know we can and will rise up.
So, wash your leggings and press your cape; it’s go time.