An Advocate’s Resolve

If we judge 2018 through social media alone…the twitter tirades, the sarcastic memes, the name calling, the ugly debate threads, the nauseating generalizations, the anger, so much anger (justifiably so)…one might think every ounce of humanity has left us.

While sucked into this black hole of incivility, with bleary eyes and mouth agape, I sometimes wonder if it indeed has. After all, it is easy to tear apart a disembodied, soulless name on a screen. It is easy to get lost in our desperation to be heard…to be seen…to be valued.

If I were to judge the future through social media alone, I would indeed, feel very discouraged. Defeated even.

Inevitably, however, simple acts of humanity in my day-to-day interactions pull me back. I have trained myself to look for it, to seek it. Not in an effort to ignore the harsh realities bearing down on a great many people, because I am keenly aware of these realities, but instead, to continue…just continue.

Over the past few months, I have made more of an effort to talk to strangers. As an introvert, these interactions are generally all or nothing. Things get real, quickly. I share an unfiltered piece of myself and I usually get a similar glimpse into my counterpart’s life. For a few minutes, we bond over a shared experience or idea. Perhaps we even chip away at the generic boxed version of what we thought the other was.

I am left with a sense of shared humanity and a hope that millions of little conversations, just like these, could perhaps solve the dichotomy facing our nation.

“Indeed, it takes anger; not the screaming, hateful, raging variety, but that intense, rising burn that can either take us or make us.”

Of course, I know the reality of bringing two opposing viewpoints together goes far beyond friendly conversations.

I know that the real work of solving pervasive systemic opposition takes actual blood, sweat and tears. I know that it takes the underdogs climbing broken ladders and taking their place at the podium, megaphone in hand. I know it takes uncommon bravery to overcome those countless kicks to the back of the line. Indeed, it takes anger; not the screaming, hateful, raging variety, but that intense, rising burn that can either take us or make us.

Let 2019 be the year that this anger makes us.

Until you find your place at the podium. Use your anger in a meaningful way. Do not excuse bullies. Do not accept ignorance…but continue…

Let this be the year that we resolve to use grace and patience when encountering our adversaries (and our sometimes, misguided allies).

Let this be the year that we resolve to take a breath and counter calmly in an effort to educate.

Let this be the year that we resolve to engage in meaningful dialog.

Let this be the year that we resolve to move beyond the absolutes and dig into the grey areas.

Let this be the year that we resolve to throw away what we think we know about someone else and take the time to hear each other.

Let this be the year that we resolve to look beyond our own personal agendas and reach across causes, colors, disabilities, gender identities, status, to find uncommon allies.

Let this be the year that we resolve to rise as a truly unified force for the good of all the oppressed, all the discounted, all the undervalued and forgotten peoples.

Anger does not have to be hateful and destructive; it can be transformative, if you allow it. Allow it.

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