I have a habit of turning on the television anytime I’m in a hotel room (because I don’t have one in my own home). It feels novel and wonderful as I’m flipping through the channels of entertainment until I land on a show with some white-male talking head scream fighting with other white-male talking heads over the reality television coverage that we’ve accepted as news. And oftentimes tragedy after tragedy after injustice is in full view.
At around the 2 minute mark I feel gross. And sad. And I shut it off and contemplate the same depressing question, is this just the way the world is? is this just what everything is becoming?
It’s followed by feelings of helplessness. Of feelings of maybe it’d just be easier to swim with the current than try to convince every person in the current that the current isn’t water at all but rather life-sucking poison that we’ve normalized and convinced ourselves won’t hurt us as much as it actually does.
But like the ole saying you can’t boil the ocean, you can however take responsibility somewhere. Anywhere. There’s no changing systems at once. There’s no fixing all problems at once. But there is, however, keeping yourself grounded and real enough to feel compelled and courageous to look out for one single thing. One issue. One system. One cause. One action. One tiny, tiny action.
Don’t let yourself be fooled that progress is inevitable and that change will happen in the tilt of history that you hope for. It’s not. It won’t. It doesn’t. Unless you choose to take that potent energy and guard that thing that your heart cares about. Figure out what it is and how you can add your single commitment to it: with time or dollars, and prayers, and looking out, guarding, fighting, and solving.
If everyone picks something, if everyone puts their focus in one place, we’ll guard what matters. If we all, however, assume someone else is watching or working and making sure “that never happens“, it will most assuredly happen. It has.
Make yourself responsible for something. You’ll not only feel like you’re apart of creating change, you will be creating change by ensuring change happens in the path of progress. Be responsible for nothing, and you’ll be responsible for the demise you so badly fear.
Art and Photo by Caroline Kelso Zook