Maybe it was how I was raised. Maybe it was something I heard or saw once on the TV. Maybe it’s some kind of psychological glitch in my brain. Maybe it was some higher calling from the great beyond.
But for as long as I can remember, I have had a devout need to do what’s right. To be a correct person. I wasn’t anything extraordinary as a child, and I would not say that I am extraordinary now, though I am distinctively aware of being considered quirky, or original, or any other word that beloved friends would use to honor how I express myself.
However, after 32 years of constant travel and being completely engulfed in other cultures, I have learned to trust –at least to a certain extent– my view on the world. There are a few things that have lead to this trust:
- I believe that I am inherently a good person. And that the people that influence me are mostly good people as well.
- I believe that while I may not be good at things like numbers, data and other more conceptualized concepts, that I am intelligent.
- I know that my view on the world is more widespread than most people on Earth, and therefore;
- I believe that my perspective of the world is one that allows me to have opinions with leverage.
And because I did not feel that I was extraordinary, I felt that I compared myself to the average person. Which meant that if someone wanted to do what was right, they would be like me. They would be good, they would be intelligent, and when giving opinions on things, they would consider their view on, not their world, but the world as a whole. I realize now, that last one is a privilege. But it is an incredibly frustrating one.
Because in my quest to grow up and into what was “right”, I found myself taking many paths that all lead to huge forks in the road. For as long as I can remember, I have used unflinching love and unconditional compassion as my tools through which to listen to everything that needed to be listened to in order to be able to do what’s right. Because when I was younger, I simply did right by myself. I did right by my boyfriend, by my family, by my friends, and that was it. And I’m not saying that isn’t enough, because there are people out there that are heroes to their community and to me that is just as noble and important to changing the world as being an international activist. But most of us are still contributing to the rest of the world’s dismay just because we think it doesn’t concern us, because we do not realize our impact. We think we are insignificant. We are not. We are part of a whole, and as such, everything we do, we end up doing as a whole.
I was taught to change what I could, and not stress what I couldn’t. I was taught to think positive, and look for the silver lining in things. And so I did. I worked on my heart, and on my mind, and on my soul. I worked on my body. I worked on my relationships. And I ignored the world.
However through the privilege of seeing the world, came the hurt of actually seeing it. I stopped being able to ignore it. Somewhere in my 20’s it started with the topics that either related to my personally or to my surroundings. Things like fat-shaming, slut-shaming, gay marriage, and racism.
While I am not gay nor a person of color, I did not see sexuality or color of skin as something that would in any way affect how decent of a human being would be, and thus played no role in my judgment of you. The only thing that I judge people on, is their character. Their race, gender, or sexuality doesn’t affect that, so I accept and love everyone equally, and do not understand why people would do otherwise. Not if you’re trying to do right, not if you’re correct.
Eventually, I felt that being self-interested about the topics I paid attention to was selfish, that I cared for and loved humanity and the world too much to just pick and choose topics. I wanted to listen to all humans. I wanted everyone to have the same rights and privileges I did, I did not want to be above anyone.
I also was extremely naive in thinking that wars was something of the past. You know, like WWII. Or like when people said “the war on drugs”, it was something metaphoric. Maybe there was some suffering in some remote countries, but it wasn’t a lot and it was atrocious that surely, by the time I got older, someone somewhere would have taken care of it.
But “they” didn’t.
And I am not sure if it got worse or I just saw more of it. Probably the latter. And I could not bare it. I felt helpless. I wasn’t smart, or strong enough, or meaningful enough, or rich enough to help anyone or solve anything. And I didn’t want to feel helpless. So I ignored it.
But remember that thing I said at the beginning? About having that devout need to do right? It’s stronger than me. I don’t even realize that I’m caring, and yet I am. Ignoring is exactly what feeds the problem. The power elite and governments that use war to consume countries for their own power and greed have built an entire system around keeping people in the dark, keeping people sleepy and content while drowning in sugar and electronics. We don’t see or realize how war “over there somewhere” affects us. We don’t realize how completely bizarre and oppressive to EVERYONE it is to judge or fear someone because of their skin color or what sexual organ they have and where they like to stick it.
We don’t think about how manipulated history has been, how deeply sick our society is. Probably because it is absolutely terrifying. Probably because all feel, at some level, that we are not smart enough, or strong enough, or meaningful enough, or rich enough to actually change anything. Because it is more comfortable and easy to simply “look at the silver lining”.
Some people just can’t handle it because it hurts them, to their core, to see so much human suffering. Some people are just lazy. Maybe we’re all a little bit of everything.
But because of the reasons that I gave you above, about why I trust myself, I feel fully confident in saying that ignoring isn’t Right. And it honestly makes me angry when I see people that consider themselves to be some kind of guide to the rest of humanity that don’t touch up on the fact that there world is fucked up, man.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that we should be miserable. Crying for the world is about as useful as yelling at the TV. I don’t want us all to suffer. I want us all to be at the very least, a healthy dose of angry. Then I’d like us all to be compassionate, and just listen. Maybe some of you are smart enough. Maybe some of you are strong enough, or meaningful enough, or rich enough to cause actual physical active change. Or maybe you have a friend that is. But I am not asking you to be any of those things. I am asking you to be Good enough. Good enough to listen. There is so much good out there, add to that, be grateful for the privileges you have, but let’s listen. Because in listening, we will learn, and Knowledge is Power. And we aren’t alone. There are so many amazing people out there of all ages, genders, and races that are actively changing the world through their own passions. Changing how you think IS changing the world because civilization has just been a manifestation of the idea of people with power. And the way they have done that is by keeping us stupid and separate.
I don’t know much of anything else, but I know about compassion, and it starts with listening, followed very closely by acceptance. There is no need to feel threatened, because by listening we are nourishing compassion, harboring knowledge. In this way, your changes will be discrete, but powerful. You will stop saying things or doing things that seem harmless that only perpetuate human inequality and suffering, and perhaps even help others curve the way they say or do things as well. There is no being too stupid, too poor, or too old for compassion. Be relevant to society, and help society be relevant to who we truly are. Start with listening to me but don’t stop there, please don’t stop there. If you have questions or fears or doubts, ask me, I will take you as far as I have gone and then try to give you a path to take on your own, so that we can continue to surpass each other and help everything move forward. Listen to the extent that you can given your context and levels of empathy. If you have children, for God’s sake teach them to listen, to care, to not perpetuate war, hatred, ignorance. Listen to the people that are angry, that are sad, that are screaming that are yelling, that are pleading.
Listen to the universe, listen to your heart; but listen.
All my love,