Today, I channeled my inner Lili von Shtupp:
“I’m so tired. Godammit, I’m exhausted. Tired, tired of playing the game. Ain’t it a crying shame. I’m so tired.”
I’m tired of playing this f*cking game of watching round after round of mind-numbing, heart-aching, absurd, and insidious events that are unfolding around us daily. Just how many threats of nuclear holocaust, devastation from natural disasters, and mass violence can a girl take?
What can be done? There are those who believe they have the answer: fight and resist. But what happens when our resistance wanes, our hearts break, and our anger surges? What happens when we can barely pull ourselves out of bed in the morning? We are left feeling powerless.
This morning on Facebook, a memory from 2012 popped up in my feed. It was of a little girl meditating. I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a bit more self-awareness—and the courage to face our own conscience?
“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.” ~ Michael Jackson
Too often, when we look to make changes in the world, the last place we look is at ourselves. We blame others for whom they voted for, or for not voting at all. We criticize others for following “mainstream media” or falling for the propaganda of fake news. We judge others for not taking the right stand, or for sitting it out. We tell others what they should do and how they should feel.
Everyone has a dissenting opinion of which they are sure they are right. Hell, we can’t f*cking win today, can we? No matter what side we’re on, it’s the wrong one.
Here’s the hardcore truth: We are all responsible for the current state of the world, and we alone have the power to change it. Yes, one person can make a difference. It doesn’t matter the cause we fight for; it’s about being the best version of ourselves.
“I’ve been a victim of, a selfish kind of love, it’s time that I realize.” ~ Michael Jackson
The above lyric from Michael Jackson’s song always stuck with me. When I speak of “selfish kind of love,” I’m not talking about self-love. We need to provide ourselves care when we need it if we hope to be of service to others. When times are tough, we need to know when we need to step on the sidelines to take a breather, gather our thoughts, and fulfill our depleted energy stocks.
A “selfish kind of love,” on the other hand, is one that feeds the ego. It is the love that makes us feel we are always right, and that we alone have all the answers. It is the one that makes us tend only to our own suffering while ignoring the bigger problems plaguing our world. It is the one that judges others who don’t think and act like us. It is the one that leads us to give only to those who are like us, and only when we can be rewarded for our generosity. A selfish kind of love separates us, rather than uniting us.
When I look within myself, I see my own selfish kind of love. But I also question it, asking myself how I can be a better person, and how I can make more meaningful contributions to society.
I’ve been selfish. Yes, it’s true—I admit it. I have contributed to the angry discourse, when meeting hate with compassion would have been the better option. I haven’t actively given to all the causes I care about.
Although I follow politics, I haven’t become an avid campaigner. I have participated in protests and campaigns in my past, but I know it’s not really my element. When I look within the mirror of my soul, I can see I am a fighter—not one who uses takes to the streets, but who uses powerful words. As a fighter, I must be aware of the effect I am having. Are my words helping or hurting? Am I inspiring or instigating? To truly make a positive difference, I must continue with this deep awareness, or else end up in the muck of adversary.
I have courageous friends who are at the front of the political battle lines. They belong there. I also have friends who are deeply compassionate and caring, but their hearts might be too fragile to stand with the others in the crosshairs. However, they too can play a role: they can use their empathetic abilities in the background, tending to bruises and healing hearts. In a time when we need compassion the most, it is these souls we should rise honor, not condemn.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for how to participate (and protest) in today’s world. We cannot succeed with a world full of warriors; we’d just end up killing one another. We need artists to inspire and we need healers to mend the weary. We can make a difference in the world simply by understanding ourselves and our place in it. We can also make positive changes by allowing others to follow their own path and appreciate the gifts they are providing.
We need activists of all kinds—activists to protest; artists, musicians, and writers to create and inspire, and fierce lovers to offer compassion and solace. But it starts with us, the men and women in the mirror. We must first find ourselves and appreciate our own unique gifts, and then fill our rightful place out in the world.
Author: Jennifer Ott
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis