This is a post I knew I needed to write, but yet it has taken me quite a long time to figure out what I wanted to say.
You see, I’ve had a very hard time with this subject. As the media spews more hatred and death and people become more polarized, I’ve known that I need to start figuring out an action plan for me to help heal the world around me sooner rather than later. I’ve realized that as human beings we can no longer be idle about who we are, what we believe and what we choose to do day in and day out. We need to stop listening to others and act on what it is we believe deep down in our soul.
I’ve done the work of figuring out what I believe and what I will stand for. And while that work will never be fully done, I feel l can comfortably say what I am and what I am not. Since I have come to that conclusion, I’ve had this deep nagging in my gut that tells me I need to figure out what to do with this knowledge.
I hear the frequent calls that other pagan blogs and by other people in the pagan community, “Become an activist!” “Join a Protest!” “Make your beliefs known to all and that you won’t stand for anything less anymore!” And those are good ideas, for some people. There are people that can do that day in and day out, and I applaud them for that. I know it is hard to be out there for your beliefs 100% of the time. It’s even harder to keep that up and still do the things you need to in order to live. But I already know I can’t do that. It isn’t because I want to hide from what is going on around me. It isn’t because I don’t want to fight for what it is I believe in. It is because I recognize I am a highly sensitive individual, an empath and sufferer of fibromyalgia. And I simply can’t do those same things.
I know there are a lot of people out there like me. We recognize that when we are in a situation that is saturated in anger and hate – no matter where it is at or who it is directed to – we physically hurt from what we feel. When we become passionate enough to speak up or defend something we see wrong, the raw emotion and power that we hold in our bodies and minds also threatens overwhelm us for hours or even days. We feel anxiety over having to talk about our beliefs with someone that disagrees – not because we are afraid of speaking out, but because we know that the negative emotion that might leak from those we are talking to will hit our shields and stick like a nasty, dark film that is ever so hard to clean off. And if we aren’t vigilant about keeping our energy clean, physical sickness is going to come very quickly.
People like me have to know their limits very well; We need to know when we are well enough to push through something, and when we have to immediately stop what we are doing because we are going to hit a mental and physical wall. And if we try to decide to push against that wall, we know the consequences of that action will be felt for a significantly long time as our bodies, minds and spirits heal.
Now that would happen if someone like me was in the middle of a protest when they have reached their limit or are forced into feeling every emotion because what emotional shields they had are blown away? What about someone like me who has limited energy and a fogged mind thanks to fibromyalgia being in a heated debate? Or what about someone like me who is so overwhelmed with anger because they believe they are right that they start to lose their sense of logic? It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But I know any one of these scenarios could happen to me. And if I put myself out there like I see other activists do, I would be the one getting the brunt of it and not be able to recover.
Don’t get me wrong – I still do what is needed. I’ve done it in the past, and I can do it again. I’ve pushed through that wall by gathering every bit of strength I can and used force of will make it through whatever situation needs to be taken care of. And I have also paid the price for doing it. The last time it happened I was down for a full month. And another two months passed before I was back to the same strength and energy levels that I was before the situation occurred. So I know I cannot properly take care of myself and still be an asset while I am on the ‘front line’ on a regular basis.
So that pretty much cancels any thought of keeping up in any activist group. So what is it I can do?
I think I’m halfway to being where I want to be. I know what it is I believe, and I don’t let anyone else tell me differently. And I think the fact that I push to understand myself and listen is more rare than it seems.
I recently watched a TV Show called “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”. In it, there was a clip of a young man, sitting next to his mother, who wanted to start a “Children for Trump” Group. The video featured this kid going on and on about the virtues of Trump, how President Obama is Muslim, and lots of other statements that came directly out of sound bites from media reports and other politicians. I’m not going to get into those beliefs, but I do want to point out something else that I think is even more concerning:
This kid was a clone of everything his mother wanted him to be.
He said the right things in her eyes, did the right things in her eyes, and was never taught to think for himself. I bet you he lives in a comfort zone completed for him by his mother, and is most likely kept from anything that could sway his thinking to something that is outside what his mother wants him to believe or see. He probably has never asked “why” he believes what he does, he just believes what he spoon is fed to him about what is going on in the world.
That is a big problem.
We need to understand why we have the beliefs we do and not just allow them to be spoon fed into our minds like this poor kid. We need to question things, and obtain our own sources of information that we feel are right for us. We also need to expect to be challenged in those beliefs and sources, but not in a negative way. We need to have open conversations about things, and have the courage to change the belief patterns.
So basically, in order to help heal the divisions, we need to do some of what I talked about in my last post. I firmly believe in what Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If I want the world to be more understanding, I have to be more understanding. If I want to understand why other people believe what they do, then I need to learn why they believe it. We can’t be spoon-fed beliefs anymore. We need to find what works for ourselves, and be ever willing to learn something new, even if it challenges the current belief system we have.
A couple months ago I would have thought that what it is I am doing – challenging my own belief systems to really dig deep into my own morals and beliefs – would be enough to be considered an activist in today’s world.
But I don’t think it is anymore.
I think it is a huge first step, and it would go a long way to healing many of the issues we see today, but it’s no longer enough.
So the question now becomes, what else can I do? Give money? Volunteer? Or is it that if I am not on the ‘front line’ that I am not doing anything of value to the cause of stopping this polarization that we find ourselves in? It’s a very tough question, and at this time I still don’t know how to answer it fully. But perhaps the answer is different for each one of us. Perhaps what I am doing is enough for me, and what someone who attends the protests is doing enough for them. Perhaps those who cast spells or actively pray to make the world a better place is doing the best they can as well.
I know that if I see an issue, if I see someone who is bullying someone of a different religion or race I’m going to say something about it, and try to deescalate the situation if I can. I know that if I hear something that is derogatory, I’m also going to speak up (and already have done that in my workplace more than once). But perhaps that is all I am meant to do – to find the beliefs that settle my soul the best and to live by them.
It’s at least a good start.
I know that I still have to do some thinking on this topic. The thought of being more active still stirs my soul for some reason. Perhaps it is enough to have conversation about it, perhaps not. but if I come up with any other ideas, I’ll write about them here. And as always, thoughts are welcome.
Photo from Deviant Art