“I believe in change. I believe in the power it has to unite us and ignite us.” – Uzo Aduba
I think most of us hoped that by 2020 [when we were supposed to have flying cars] that we would be better prepared for a global pandemic and more progressive in how equality and human decency is taught and practiced throughout our world. Viruses and natural disasters are, for the most part, out of our control…but treating humans with kindness, respect and as equals is long overdue.
We are halfway through 2020 and it has not been the year many thought it would be or had hoped for. However, what if 2020 is actually the year we have been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, unknown, frightening and heartbreaking that it forces us to grow. Our world has faced world wars, pandemics, devastating natural disasters, stereotypes, sexism, ageism, anti-Semitism, prejudice and racism since the beginning of time. Maybe 2020 is the year we are going to see a surge of change begin to unfold.
2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s federal right to vote. As well as the 100-year anniversary of the American Civil Liberties Union which has been instrumental in some of the most well knowns court cases of the past century, including Brown v Board of Education. So why 100 years later are we still here?
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Jane Elliott is an American schoolteacher and anti-racism activist know for her “Blue-eyes – Brown eyes” exercise she first conducted for her class on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Elliott’s classroom exercise was filmed and made into a documentary in 1970.
In Elliott’s exercise, she is teaching the children about racism by dividing them into two groups according to their eye color. One group received privileges of white people and the other the disadvantages of black people.
The purpose of her exercise is to teach her class that there is only one race – the human race. This was in the late 60’s, yet here we are still today, seeing the same issues still arise.
“We need to keep it from mutating into racism…”
People are not born sexist, racist or prejudice, even though babies as young as three months can distinguish faces by color and sex. 3-year-olds are fully capable of understanding racial categories, and even the hierarchies that come with them. Studies of the human brain show us this categorization is normal, but we need to keep it from mutating into racism.
So, what is next?
- Disbanding, and/or defunding the police forces?
- Legislation to reform American police. Prosecute police for misconduct and banning unnecessary force?
- Adjusting to a world that no longer shakes hands and wears masks in public?
- Changing the way we interact on a global level to protect ourselves from new viruses?
“We need to remember change is a process, it is a journey…”
Whatever is next, it requires all of us shifting our mindsets. There is no “going back to normal”, and that is a good thing. The world isn’t going to go “back to how it was” before COVID-19, before unnecessary deaths, before the peaceful protests or before the riots. I think we all can agree that we don’t want to go backwards, we want to move forward. We need to keep the momentum going, keep moving forward with positive change. However, we need to remember change is a process, it is a journey and it all can’t happen overnight.
I’m an impatient person, even though I’m working on my “imperfection”, I know that I am inherently always going to lean towards wanting things to happen quicker than they will or should happen. Like wanting to be able to run a marathon without having to prepare for 4 months.
Most people can’t go out and run a marathon without preparation which includes:
- Good running shoes
- Trying different foods that won’t make you poop your pants during a run
- Finding the best Garmin or watch to track your distance
- Mapping out routes so you have variety
- Cross training to prevent injury
- Actually running
- And the list goes on…
In order to work up to 26.2 miles you have to start with 5 miles, 10 miles, and then 15 miles. You adjust your diet, you adjust your sleep patterns, you train your body and you train your mind. Making change in our world right now will take time. Like a marathon it takes research, education, a consistent effort and patience.
We are all a part of that effort. Educate yourself, your friends and family on controversial issues. Read, learn, vote, donate, peacefully protest if you’d like, speak out and keep “training” yourself to not give up because you don’t see immediate change. You aren’t going to be able to run 26.2 miles after only running for 1 week or even 1 month.
“Now more than ever is when we should be sticking together…”
Working for change is not something we “fix” overnight, but if we keep working towards making this world a more peaceful place, hopefully we will feel the effects of it sooner than later, even in the middle of a pandemic. There are many things you can do, but if you start to get overwhelmed, the easiest thing you can do today is to be kind. Now more than ever is when we should be sticking together, fighting (peacefully and productively) for each other, supporting each other and realizing that we all inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. No matter your age, sex, religion, race, sexual orientation, etc., we all have red blood flowing through our bodies.
Just like COVID-19 has affected people all over the world in different ways, the current events are affecting everyone differently. Just because you might not think you are directly affected by these events, we all are a part of change.
Everything happens for a reason. That reason causes change. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it hurts, sometimes it’s wonderful…but in the end it’s necessary and we keep moving forward. Whatever we do to move forward should be thoughtful and not rapidly reactive.
“Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world.”
I’m not naive enough to think that in my lifetime we will see world peace (and probably not flying cars). But I do know that I am one person and I have a choice about what I can do to be a part of the change this world needs to see to make it a better place. I can educate myself, I can educate my friends and family, I can vote, I can love myself, I can love others, and I can be kind. Yoko Ono said, “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world.”
We need to rise up together as a world, as a country, as neighbors, friends, family…as humans and do our part to make this world that we are living in the best that it can be. We need to take care of ourselves and take care of each other. We are all human…please, please be kind.
Remember, You Got This!