Intentions can help us resolve to actually live the life we want to live.
We can have lofty goals, but our lives are made up of small moments and a myriad of choices.
My intention lately is complain less, envision more.
See, I’m good at complaining. As a social worker, I advocate professionally. I call stuff out on the regular.
It is my career to create culture change, and I like to think I do this to bring about good in the world.
I look at my accomplishments as an activist and justify my outlook on life.
I can look around and see the distance between where we are and where I wish we could be. This makes me complain some more.
I often choose to channel my perfectionism and my outrage and my ire into trying to make the world a little less messed up, one person or group of people at a time.
I rally against much more than I rally for. I fight back instead of fighting for. I am often reactive, rather than proactive, even as I advocate for proactivity.
Social justice work can sometimes be like an awkward middle-schooler playing dodgeball: balled up in the corner, ball in hand, fending off an onslaught. Dodging, not throwing. My glasses get knocked on the ground, my vision obscured, focused on survival.
We are often in this place as activists.
We are also often targeted in our own lives for our own identities, so when time comes for envisioning we are quite exhausted. Exhaustion does not provide much room for creativity. Without creativity, we are all vulnerable to burnout.
I am not a middle schooler in gym class, and I do have some amount of power and control over at least a small piece of the world. I can lob my own ball.
Better yet, I can change the rules. I can choose to play another game. I can pick my own team.
I can look around and see that I’m on a really fierce team already.
I can work within my own communities to change the mindset of “it’s gonna be how it’s gonna be,” to “how can we begin to create the world we want to live? How can we start right now?”
Sometimes I see my current paradigm as the only one that will ever exist.
Forces beyond my control (bigotry, violence, oppression, bureaucracy) seem way too large to challenge.
As activists, we can get caught up in fighting today’s fires under the guise of working toward tomorrow’s culture change.
I choose to push back rather than push forward. I dwell in the muck of today rather than in possibility.
So, I set an intention to create, to brainstorm, to envision, to bring together.
I set an intention to not only deflect dodgeballs but to figure out how to inch toward a world where the rules of the game are different.
I intend to take time every day to imagine the world I want to live in five, ten, twenty years from now, the world I want for my children, for their children’s children’s children.
I resolve to foster creativity and comprehensive thinking.
I resolve to use my powers for good.
I will use my power, regardless of how limited in scope, to move beyond fighting back.
We can and should help advance culture change to address the causes while remembering that we still must address the symptoms.
We deserve sustainable movements. We deserve to be able to come together, empowered to articulate our own futures.
If we don’t bring people together to create the future, who will? I am not in middle school, and I am not last-picked in dodgeball. We are in this together. Will you join me?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor Apprentice: Emma Ruffin / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: YouTube Video screenshot