Current song: What About Us by P!nk.
So, it happened. I am not sure if it is the current situation we are living through, but I think a sequence of events has just pushed me to a point I never thought I would reach.
My eyes cannot stop seeing what is in front of me and I cannot not speak up.
I have spent the majority of my life saying to myself, “well this is wrong, isn’t it?”. When I watch someone throw litter on the ground; when I see animals being hurt for our pleasure, or children being abused; when someone says something to another human being that is disgusting. When the 2016 election happened. When there have has been wars, and fighting, wildfires and floods. “Well, this is wrong.”
But I never did anything.
I didn’t campaign, or very actively join movements (although I pushed for them in my own way). I didn’t speak up about what I was witnessing. I went about my business, doing my thing, hoping other people saw the ridiculousness that was happening around us and cared too. That maybe they too were outraged, but yet no one ever really did anything. Not anyone around me. Not me.
I never thought I could make any kind of difference in the world. And truth be told, I probably can’t. But, then, now I wonder, why not? Lately, I have been reading books and watching documentaries about strong women, women who during the women’s lib movement changed our history. And so many people have used their voices, their talent (in every shape and size), their skills to advance the world, so why not me.
Why not us.
(Not that anyone is actually reading this anyway, so it is more about my own introspectiveness.)
Why can’t we make changes that impact everyone and everything around us? We can, can’t we? Is that what is scary about it all? That we can actually make conscious choices in our every day life that really have a positive affect on others, on the planet, the world we are all on.
The past 5 years, and more recently the last 5 months, have been a major transition into how I view the world. My daughter was born, for starters, and I also realized I have been a writer my whole life but kept it hidden (for various reasons), and a bunch of other things I won’t list here. The point is, the slow motion of those events, had lead me to where I had been until today, and it had somehow triggered me to ask, how can I be a better person? How can I make a difference? How can I lead by example? Now, with everything going on, it has become, how can I continue to just watch things happen? How can we bury our heads into our phones, into lala land, pretend none of this is really happening? I know a lot don’t, a lot of people are awake, paying attention, but not enough of us. Myself included.
The past week has been a nightmare for a lot of people in this country, a nightmare for months around the world. It slowly built up and now we are all looking around going “wait, what is happening?”. In my little bubble, we had been planning several trips and parties, prepping the house to sell, going to shows, organizing playdates, or just doing the laundry. So, basically, life, for me, as I am sure for others, was running at 5 miles a minute in my everyday business and then everything came to screeching halt with this outbreak.
It was like we were on a speeding train, and then whiplash, my body jolting awake, and I was forced to see the reality around me. I, personally, had to cancel an international trip that I had been planning for months, almost a year. I was (am) heartbroken. In the middle of the chaos, we are about to put the house on the market (as we are about to move across the country again), and now we are hoping the market doesn’t crash into a recession before we can sell. We are going to start keeping our daughter home from preschool, affecting the tiny bits of our daily lives.
Today, after juggling the airlines, and communicating with an AirBnB host who has refused to refund us even though they are supposed to, my brain could not compute what was happening. The funny, but not really funny, part is, you think it would be just the money, right? At least that is what most people might think. That is where we have gotten, that is where we are as a world, almost accusatory, “The monetary aspect is your concern.”
On the exterior of it, it is what it looks like. But for me, we had to cancel this trip because of my husband’s underlying health issues (he has Cystic Fibrosis, so he is in that small percentage of people who, if he did contract the virus, could die) – so we have spent time reading and deciding on what to do, weighing all the options, having to explain to our daughter how unstable it all is right now. The AirBnB host, a person I thought was a decent human, continued to refuse the refund. But that aside, he then somehow managed to say, “don’t panic, and read reliable news”. An assumption that normally I would ignore, an assumption that in not so many words implies that I am a twit, ignorant and not reading, instead believing the fear mongering; implying that I have not been agonizing over the choices in front of me or the what ifs that may happen.
It sparked something in my core.
A series of events then followed after I dropped off my daughter at school (for what will now be the last time, until who knows when) – a woman cut me off, almost crashing my car, only because she wanted to be in the front of the line at Starbucks, even though I was not doing the drive-thru. Then someone cut me off to get the one parking spot, a spot designated for only mobile orders, and once inside I realized she was not picking up an order. Then someone else almost hit my car because they were texting instead of watching the road in front of them. All I did was shake my head.
First world problems, I know. I see it. I recognize it.
That is not the point. I consider myself fortunate to have these be the things happening in front of me, instead of bombs or attacks on me because of race/religion/gender/etc. I recognize what I wrote sounds frivolous but the fact is, those little tiny actions became a crashing wave inside of me.
Because, see, it all ties together. From the most extreme situations, to the smallest of ones. I asked myself, when did we all stop being decent human beings? When did we decide bombs and hatred were the answer? When did we decide holding a door open for someone, or saying thank you, or covering our mouths when we sneezed, was no longer necessary. When did we decide, as a collective whole, that my bullshit (my money, my race, my power, my property, my whatever) is more important than yours. When did we stop caring about our fellow humans? Was it always this bad and I am just now seeing it? Or has something changed in us, and is continuing to change, heading us all down a rabbit hole, one we may not be able to get out of?
That is what I am starting to look at with more depth. I want to understand when we transitioned? When did we start (nonverbally) saying we do not care? When did we go from, staying silent and thinking, “oh that is wrong”, to not giving a fuck about anything or anyone but ourselves? And when did we start to assume the worst in people, that people are idiots, or selfish, or assholes based on a single act?
I am to blame, too. My AirBnB host may really need the money, I don’t know. My Starbuckians may have been having an off day, or had a screaming child in the back seat, or a sick parent at home. But at the end of the day, it still comes down to the concept of human decency. I have always assumed most people on the planet really are decent and kind and I like to hold on to that idea that we, the majority of the human race, are all good and decent, albeit a bit distracted lately.
Right now, with everything happening in the world, maybe we should all stop for a second and consider how people all over the planet are feeling. That we are not alone on this spinning ball we call home. So, forget about yourself for a moment. About the drama in your small circle of the world. Think of how the families in China or Iran or Italy are feeling? Losing people they love, losing their livelihood, being locked up at home. How are the airline workers feeling, juggling so many people with so many different issues? Or the employee’s being told they are being laid off for a while? Or how the people who are elderly or have health conditions are feeling? How are sports players or theatre actors feeling, not able to do their passion? How about the doctors who are fighting to figure this out? The researchers staying up late trying to sort out what is best? What about the kids watching us, as we forget about each other and only care about how much we have for ourselves right now?
We are at a crossroads, it feels like, not just this country, but our planet. Between climate change, politics and now our health and economy. The planet is shaking us to wake up. Mother Earth is begging us to get our shit together as a whole. To care about each other, to be kind to one another, to understand the other side. To make changes while we still can.
The question is, are we willing to let go of our egos and see it; are we willing to make the conscious choices, to do the right thing, to do something about it now, while we still can?
I really hope the answer is yes.