I want to live in a world different than the one cultivated by those who came before me. I want every human to have access and opportunity to thrive in whatever way best suits them while allowing for the health, peace and well-being of others. I want humans to live, work, and play in greater concert with nature. I want to stop the cycles of oppression and trauma perpetuated by our malfunctioning societal systems and create space for healing and growth instead. I want a lot of things to shift, and I want to help shift them.
Like many people, I was sad and angry when I learned about George Flyod’s tragic death at the hands of people who abuse their position of public trust. This is yet another human of color murdered by humans of authority who did not recognize his life as worthy of their consideration; who did not see him as their fellow human being. And unfortunately George Floyd is only the latest in a long list of humans of color murdered for similar reasons and in similar circumstances that I have seen in just my lifetime. Every time it happens again my heart aches for how preventable and how pointless the loss of each life is.
This week through my sadness I also saw a glimmer of hope in the number of people asking for change. I am encouraged by the protests because they are widespread and highly visible. Tuesday evening saw protests in all 50 states. That is something I don’t remember ever seeing before in my lifetime. Civil unrest and demonstration in the streets are nothing new to this country or my city, but this time feels different to me. This time it seems like many of the white people out there demanding change alongside their fellow humans of color also want to participate in creating that change. It no longer seems sufficient to ask someone else to take care of solving these problems.
Perhaps the timing was finally right. With workplaces and schools closed due to the global pandemic, maybe this is just the outlet folks needed for all their pent-up angst. I know the Covid isolation awoke in me a furious desire to do something to help fix the world. Perhaps the widespread pandemic messaging that “we are in this together” and “we will get through this together” really sank in for some folks. I would like to think this is a tipping point for this country. I’m going to let it be a tipping point for me.
This week I have watched multiple online panel discussions where all the panelists were humans of color. This week they were easy to find, whereas before it took a concerted effort to find the same opportunity. This week I have seen an increase in online discussions between white folk about white privilege and dismantling systemic racism. This week I participated in a Facebook discussion about race for the first time with two humans I have never met who are also white. This week when Oregon’s white governor, along with a city commissioner and state senator of color, held a press conference about the protests in Oregon I heard them talk about actual actions they were actually taking to unravel the systems of racial oppression in state government.
I am feeling hopeful about what’s happening in my little corner of the world.
Unfortunately, this week also included peaceful protestors brutally attacked without provocation by police in multiple cities. This week some people dismissed the entire protest movement when riots occurred instead of recognizing that looting is not nearly as horrendous as the decades of racial injustice we have all been silently acquiescing to. This week the President called on state governors to use the national guard to stamp-out protests so they wouldn’t “look like a bunch of jerks.”
I am enraged, disappointed, and disgusted with those reactions to the reasonable request for human dignity. But that’s not all: I have seen this before. And not just with social justice or politics, but with every other part of life. This kind of reaction is a pattern that I suspect has been playing out for as long as our society has existed. The people who will inherit this world want to live in it differently, and the old guard who have been running it for a while do not want to agree to change the system because that will make them wrong.
Fortunately, it doesn’t actually matter whether they are wrong or not. That is the great hidden power of being right without attachment to the other guy being wrong. Whether the founders of our systems were wrong to create them or the current stewards of those systems are wrong to perpetuate them has absolutely no bearing on my desire and determination to change them. I see what is happening right now and I want to cultivate something different.
In America’s case, I would argue that a lot of the people in positions of power right now are very wrong about a great many things. Those among them who cling desperately to the broken and unjust systems are also desperately playing the not-wrong game (in addition to other games of power and privilege). What they don’t realize is that won't actually help them because change is inevitable. Whether it's brought about by the current protest movement or due to global economic or climate collapse, our current systems are unsustainable and have been fraying at the seams for a long time. They can keep wasting their energy trying to avoid being wrong. I don’t need to play that game; I’ll be over here changing the world.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.