I have not been silent in my own life, though. In fact I believe I am finally having the courage and decency to speak up and not only encourage conversation, but also offer my support.
The injustices and violence that are being committed daily in America against black individuals and against police officers, the senseless homophobia, the xenophobia and the acts of violence and terror that are occurring in America as well as the world...it's sickening. It's maddening. It's heartbreaking. It's exhausting.
It may feel like initially you want to turn away and protect yourself; that is understandable. Sometimes we feel flooded by negativity and we lose sight of the good in humanity. It is overwhelming to see all of the pain and hurt in the world, especially for those of us who are enduring some form of pain or suffering in our own lives. But we cannot turn a cheek. We cannot ignore our fellow human. We cannot abandon those who need support. We must listen, we must be open to reality.
You may feel helpless, but you're not. There is so much you can offer and do, and it doesn't have to be macro. Spread love and kindness and compassion. Show these qualities to others. Tell your friends and family that you love them, that you're thinking of them. Offer the man asking for money in front of your Starbucks a to-go cup of ice water on a hot day. Smile at people. Thank the people at the checkout, the people who bag your groceries. Thank your local police officers and firefighters. Ask people how they are doing and mean it. Make eye contact when having a conversation, and don't be afraid to engage in meaningful, deep conversations about our world's goings-on.
Speak up when you disagree with someone's views, and speak up in a respectful manner - it's OK to disagree - the point is that you are standing up for what you believe in, what [I hope] is inherently good, and continuing and perpetuating the conversation; you're having a voice. You have a voice. We all have the right to use it in whatever form we feel most fit.
Here are some ways that you can take action, compiled by the incredible Kerri Kelly and her team at CTZNWELL.
- Look up local actions happening in your community. Find out what is going on and attend. Bring your friends and family. Step out in boldness and support. If you don’t find a local event or you feel inspired to hold one yourself, read this inspiring account from Jardana Peacock about her Yoga for Peace and Justice action in remembrance of Trayvon Martin.
- Donate to a Black-led organization: see SURJ’s list of organizations here or find one near you
- Lots of action options from SURJ’s Police Brutality Action Kit - published after Ferguson but relevant today