Hello Dazzle! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I want to talk about the power that each of us hold in ourselves to create change. All too often, we accept the lie that a single person cannot affect change in the world around them. This is a lie. History proves to us that a single person can create watershed events that dramatically change the course of history. No, a single person cannot radically change the world. But a single person can be the spark that ignites the fire that ingulfs everything before it.
I got this great comment on my face book page and I wrote a long reply. Then I realized that there was so much more that I wanted to say in response to this. So, I brought it here so I could further expand on my thoughts. Thank you Tessa for this really great comment!
If I were to do nothing, I’d be guilty of complicity.DaShanne Stokes
When we choose to do nothing in the face of injustice we are allowing that injustice to continue. We become the allies of those who are causing the harm when we make no efforts to stop that harm. As witnesses, we are responsible to our fellow humans to take action against injustice. We always have the power of choice. Even doing nothing is an active choice.
Friend: We are here. Already here. Within. A train approaches a wall at a fatal rate of speed. You hold a switch in your hand, that accomplishes you know not what: do you throw it? Disaster is otherwise assured. It costs you nothing. Why not try?George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
How do we create change in the face of systemic problems on a national scale? It is important to understand that there are fundamental differences to approaching systemic problems rather then those caused by individuals or a single cause. I’ve already written a post about that, so I’m not going to rehash it all here. Just wanted to mention that it is something that we need to keep in mind when we are considering how we are going to handle these larger scale issues facing our society.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.Elie Wiesel
There are always things that we can do to help those that are facing injustice. It is true that these things can feel rather small when we look at the great evils that many people are forced to endure. But consider a moment the nature of the ant. A single ant cannot accomplish much on it’s own. But when the ants unite together to create a colony they become a force to be reckoned with. Ants are capable of bringing down an elephant when they work together. We need to remind ourselves that we are the ants. It takes the action of only a single ant to initiate the events required to bring down an elephant.
What Do We Do In The Face Of Injustice?
We raise our voices to advocate for those that are not receiving equitable treatment in our society and healthcare system. It is important that we call attention to injustice when we see it and voice that we are against what is happening. This can be in the form of formal protesting with signs and shouting. But it can also come in the form of making social media posts that bring attention to the issue. When talking about the injustice we need to also declare the changes that we want to see. This offers the reality that other options can be imagined and that is the first step in making other possibilities real.
We frequently see innovation taking it’s inspiration from art and literature. This is because when someone shares the things they imagine with the world it allows everyone the option of brain storming how to transform that dream into a reality. We have many really cool things in our world because of this. Star Trek imagined voice interfaced computers and scientists figured out how to make them real. There is nothing stopping us from using ideas regarding social justice in the same fashion. We have seen several cities in the nation make changes to the way that they police their population based upon ideas that were first expressed and then supported on social media. We can accomplish more if we are brainstorming solutions to the problems together.
We educate others regarding the state of the injustice so that they have the chance to also advocate and support those that are not receiving equitable treatment. If we are in a position of understanding the nature of a thing, we are also in a position to help others understand why there is an injustice. Often times, injustice is tolerated in our society through a general lack of understanding. When the majority of people do not understand the nature of a thing, it is easy for them to accept however things currently are. They are effectively blind to any injustices that may be occurring because they lack understanding on the topic.
Consider involuntary commitment for those with mental illness as an example. Most people do not have any awareness of how the involuntary commitment laws work let alone any understanding of how those laws are inequitable treatment for those with mental illness. By providing people with education on how the involuntary process works, we give them the foundation with which to understand how there is an injustice which then affords them the option of then taking action against that injustice.
Evil does well to remain hidden in the darkness, for as long as it’s nature is obscured it carries a rather mighty shield.
We tell our stories to everyone that will listen so that injustices cannot be swept beneath the rug nor hidden within a closet. This partly serves to advocate and to educate, but it also offers the possibility for others to relate. We are all human and when we share are human experiences with the world we allow other humans out there the chance to relate to our experiences. This serves to bind us together as a single group rather then remaining divided in the “us” and “them” camps. When we are able to see that other people are more like us then they are different then us it is much more difficult for us to ignore their suffering.
We educate ourselves in the political arena so that we can become responsible voters that are choosing government officials that will support and fight for making change. When ever voting opens, we cast our ballots. This makes it much more likely that laws, policies and regulations will change to become aligned with the values that we hold. Choosing who represents us in our government is an important step in ensuring that our society maintains justice for all of its people.
We create spaces in our communities where people can feel safe. Within those safe communities we provide people with the life saving emotional support and social connection that every human being needs when they are struggling. We also show up and listen to what each other are reporting. There is value in having a group of people that you can safely report your feelings and fears to. It is in these kinds of spaces that injustices are often discussed. And by giving each other emotional support we make each other better able to endure the difficulties that we face while we continue to face the many injustices we are seeing in our society.
We embrace the spirit of kindness and move through our lives holding compassion for those that are around us. We offer assistance to others however, whenever and where ever we are able to. Taking care of each other builds community which binds together as a group. This makes it much more likely that we will fight for an individual and any injustices that are seen against individuals within that community. We are more compelled to help those who are part of our social networks then those who are considered strangers or part of a different social group.
When ever possible, we make donations to organizations that are working towards creating the changes that we desperately need in our society. Giving these organizations money allows them to better address the issues that they are struggling to take on. Often times, these organizations are able to attract experts in fields relevant to the problem being addressed which makes it much more likely that a resolution will be found. It is also more difficult for the government to ignore an organization as opposed to an individual that is speaking out.