I’ve been thinking a lot these last few days about the state of the world and what we can do about it. And then a friend challenged me to come up with THE solution. Rather than dismiss it as merely an insane idea, I took my own advice: I tried. It’s not THE answer. There’s lots of room for improvement. But it’s something.
So first, let’s talk about privilege. It’s basically just unearned advantages. We all have it to some degree or other and learning how to recognize it is one of the best first steps any of us can take. Did you wake up in a home, in a bed, under a roof, with electricity? Did you have enough to eat? Did you have access to clean water? Did you have the opportunity to go to school? Was the school near your home? Did you get to go to college? Do you have a job? Are you healthy? Can you go to your church without worrying that people will label you a terrorist? When you get pulled over by cops do you feel a reasonable expectation of safety? Do you go for a run around your block and not worry about being raped or sexually assaulted?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, awesome! Privilege is nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about having. Where there’s no innate merit, there’s also no blame. It’s like being randomly assigned the best parking spot. It’s cool for you. It doesn’t hurt anybody else. But if you shove it in someone else’s face, you’re a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.
There are a lot of real problems in the world right now. A lot of them are manmade. So let’s accept our collective responsibility and start problem solving. While there are many important conversations and actions to be taken, I’ve decided to commit to an experiment. I’m inviting anyone interested to join me.
Everything I read seems to point to the fact that a lot of people right now feel powerless. They feel like their needs aren’t being met. Like they’re of no concern to the society in which they live—the society that is meant to protect them. And this feeling of powerlessness leads to anything from anger to bigotry to hate groups to violence (toward self and others) and even toward authoritarianism.
I wish I had all the answers; I don’t. But I believe that we each have more power than we know. So I wrote this short list of things anyone can do every day to empower themselves by empowering others. You never know how far your small acts will ripple into the world. Maybe you will change someone’s life. Maybe that someone will be you. Maybe if we all feel a little bit more empowered we can turn the violent, destructive, hateful tide, together. Personally, I think it’s worth trying.