Featured Image: Flower Power, taken by Bernie Boston on October 21, 1967.
Like most of America, I felt sick to my stomach reading about the violence that erupted between white nationalists and counter-protesters. It appears that the United States has lost its damn mind, but when I really reflect, it also appears that our current way of life is unsustainable, so the tides must turn one way or another, and, as history shows, love is always stronger than hate. Even though love may be a long, rocky course filled with many opponents, I have hope.
America feels on edge right now. There’s a crazy news headline every day, pro-tests continue to break out, and the citizens of our country remain confused, divided, and scared. Just when it seemed as if we might make serious progress on racism, sexism, and the way we treat the LGBTQ community, well, shit hit the fan and a lot of “alt-right” views that people used to express on a more private level, came into the public sphere.
Just because these white nationalists now feel emboldened enough to protest in the streets, doesn’t mean they didn’t exist before. Views on race, gender, sexuality, has always been a dividing force in this country. Ever notice how certain communities, job opportunities, and characters on television are dominated by a specific race, gender, or appearance? Humans did not naturally choose to live this way; many factors have shaped our country so that it’s designed this way. The only way to truly fight ignorance, is to educate people about the way our country has been operating for hundreds of years, and to challenge people whenever we hear an ignorant comment about a person on the basis of his or her race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. If we don’t challenge people’s stereotypes and assumptions, we’re letting ignorance spread like a virus. If we don’t educate ourselves about why our country operates the way it does, we will continue to live in confused darkness, ready to point blame and fight.
When the world hurts you, don’t let it harden you – let it motivate you to be and do better. After all, out of the chaos in the 1960s, a lot of social change emerged.
With that said, I wish all individuals of the world could sit in a circle, smoke some weed, and chill the fuck out in one big kumbaya together, but until then, we must keep fighting the good fight. You can dislike individuals all you want, but generalizing, stereotyping, and harassing entire groups of people on the basis of their race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. needs to stop. Change starts at the grassroots level: we can post and rant on social media, but until we start changing the way we act on a daily basis – from acknowledging and challenging implicit biases, to treating each being we meet with compassion – real change will not be made. You are only one person – you will never be able to change the world by yourself. But if you begin speaking up for what’s right and acting in accordance with your conscious values, you will attract others who share your light, and, as a group, we will make this world a more peaceful, accepting place.
Spread peace, acceptance, and love, even when you’re heart is broken. You are not alone in the movement towards justice.
Oh, and if you don’t know where to start, watch Requiem for the American Dream on Netflix. The world will probably make a little more sense once you watch it.