The people I write about, the social workers, the volunteers, the activists and community leaders…. We’re tired. We’ve been tired, and we’ve been telling you this whole time that things have got to change. We’ve been telling you that you can’t keep ignoring the disenfranchised and their lack of healthcare, their crumbling schools, their lack of access to basic human rights … and expect things to turn out all right in the end.
It didn’t turn out all right in the end. And now you’re trying to stay positive and calm and tell us that it’s time to fight. Well, we have been fighting. Now it’s time for you to fight.
But please don’t start with your grand solutions. Your misconceptions about the complexities and magnitude of social problems are what got us here in the first place. Strive to understand the problems first. Read, yes, but also talk. Ask. Get out of your car and walk around. Attend gatherings you’ve been curious about but always had an excuse to skip. Get to know the people who clean your house or cut your hair or work for you. It’s so important that you learn and understand just how screwed up things are and that you find out what role you had in it being this way. We all had a role, each of us.
I’m sorry to tell you that you’re going to feel overwhelmed and hopeless for a bit. You’ll start to look at what you have a little differently. It will make you feel icky and spoiled. And no one will feel sorry for you, so there won’t even be that.
But if you want to be able to go to bed at night and believe that you did something, that you actually did something that helped fight bigotry, racism, misogyny, inequity, homophobia and isolationism, you’re going to have to actually do something. Every day, you’re going to have to step out of your bubble, stick your neck out, and speak up for someone else.
If you believe in human potential and that everyone has a right to the very best life they can live, you’re going to have listen, share, be humble and fight.
Start by supporting those who have been fighting this whole time. Giving them your money helps tremendously. Trust that they’ve been fighting long enough and smart enough to know what works and they just need the money to make it happen. They’re tired from working so hard with so little. Remember, they’ve been the first line of defense against inequity for so long, and you owe them for that.
Then stand beside them. Join their fight and lend them your power, money, connections and strength. You can be the one that changes everything and makes things right. Get started now.