There was a time when the chaotic state of our world today made me want to shut off all reminders of the pain. I changed the channel when the news turned tragic. I flipped past the page with the haunting images. I closed my eyes to avoid footage of starving children or bloodied bodies. I did this not because I didn’t care, but because it hurt too much. And I felt so helpless and insignificant.
Sometimes I still look away or shut off a screen filled with human horror, but it’s no longer because I feel helpless.
It took a few poignant experiences to restore my hope in humanity. It took an intentional learning journey to the American south to learn about the way ordinary people stood up against oppressive systems to make lasting change in the Civil Rights Movement. It took going to South Africa, reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like. It took reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and learning about The Singing Revolution and nonviolent resistance movements in the Baltics.
I realized the pain in our world can be healed, and it’s through ordinary people like you and me.
The first, and probably most important thing I learned through these experiences, is that humanity is resilient. When people pull together for a common cause, they can do anything.
The second thing I learned is that knowledge changes you. It’s easy to hide from the needs of our world when you’re a Western, middle class person. It’s easy to pretend that we’re not a part of oppressive systems. When we learn the truth we can’t help but view the world differently. It changes us.
The hardest thing is to move from knowledge to action. My complacency is revealing itself as I continue to take part in oppressive systems and turn a blind eye to injustice. Knowledge without action is hypocrisy.
I am a hypocrite.
Most of us are. How do we get beyond knowledge to actually doing something? That’s what I’m going to try to figure out. It’ll be just little things, one step at a time. No radical life changes at first. We have to start small to avoid getting overwhelmed and quitting too soon.
My inaction usually stems from not knowing what to do next.
On this blog, I’m going to explore ways that ordinary people can make a difference in the world. Right now I’m most interested in fair trade products, so I’m going to start there. I’ll also probably blog about reconciling relationships, simple living, and sightings of hope and beauty.
I’ll also write about books, authors, and other literary things that catch my eye. The literary community may not seem immediately connected to healing the world, but I think that stories are what make us human. Stories open windows into the human experience we wouldn’t otherwise understand.
What do you do when faced with our world’s deep pain?