Why Right Now Matters/How to Engage with the World Better (Guide for Amateurs)  

Unless you are blind you will have noticed the troubling social trends occurring globally in the last year or so. There was Brexit, there was the hell raging in places like Syria, there was the election of Trump. Now we have self-proclaimed white supremacists marching without consequence in the USA, we still have hell in places like Syria and here in NZ we have an election that is kinda bringing out the absolute worst in politicians and voters alike.

So why does this matter?

There is a tweet going around that says: Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 6.26.07 PM.png

If you’re like me – living somewhere like NZ reading it will make you feel both fired up with passion to act and also completely helpless. Because right now the situation is really fucked up – that is a fact not an opinion, it is really fucked up people are marching for white supremacy and doing nazi salutes in 2017 –  and you want to do something but also it seems so removed from where we are, like how can we possibly help?

Here are some really practical and important steps to take:

1) Know Yourself: The first step is to have a good look in the mirror and think about who you are. Reflect on your personal experiences and knowledge of the world. There is so much power and significance in understanding how you fit into the fight against inequity. Learn about privilege and the tools you have that you can use. Learn how you can use these effectively. Also learn about things that you might not have and how to ask for help with those.

2) Speak Up: We have to talk about it. It being the state of the world, it being politics, it being nuclear war and climate change, it being people and religion and immigration. It being the headlines we are seeing in the news right now.

If we aren’t talking about it we aren’t caring and in 2017 the argument “not our problem” is 100% not holding up. Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to your flatmates. Call out the shitty jokes that aren’t actually jokes. Let yourself be known as the kind of person who doesn’t stand for that shit. That’s a good quality to have you know, being someone who doesn’t stand for shit.

Also this stuff is really interesting. Civics is really important and the changes that are being made matter – talking about it and sharing opinions and making it something that is a normal point of conversation is really important especially for young people. This will be our government; we have to care a bit more.

3) Sit Down Shut Up And Listen: Admit you don’t know everything, sit down and listen. Try to actually hear what people are saying and what their experiences have taught them. Use their wisdom to improve the way you engage and to form your own opinions.

IMPORTANT: Don’t shut them out because it’s something you don’t want to hear or because it makes you feel sad or attacked on your own privilege. Like I am *Queen of Sensitivity* but I know that (see point one) so when I get butt hurt over something I do like to take the time to be like ‘heck I am sensitive’ and to absorb it with that awareness, to talk about it (see point two) and then to respond after. Was what i’m mad about something actually hurtful or dangerous to me or others? Or was it an important message that I should take note of or opinion I should be aware of?

No shame in being wrong if you are brave and smart enough to say sorry and change your mind when corrected!!

Or to disagree when you can do so respectfully and without being blind to basic human decency (eg. the belief that all humans are humans lol)

4) Give a Damn: This shouldn’t be as hard as it apparently is lmao. What is happening  has significance to every community. The world isn’t that big ya know, the issues are all around. Show some empathy, show some understanding.

It’s not even hard lol the news is on Facebook and Twitter and Buzzfeed, just click the link!

5) Vote: I am 21, in the next election I will be 24?! That is so many important years and I am passionate about making a choice that reflects the NZ I want to live in. We are 100000 miles from where we need to be but we can start heading there if people care.

I don’t consider myself an idealist at all, but even I know that we can fix things if more people care.

6) Breathe: It isn’t easy. When you actively enter this community of people who are caring about these global issues it can seem very loud and very angry and very stressful. But it’s important. It is all good to tune out with your mates and have a two hour chat about memes and wine and whats for dinner, I do that all the time but its important to stay engaged with this community as well.

I know. I understand that is stressful to place responsibility on yourself if its not what you are used to. It is disheartening and it is embarrassing to realise all the ways you are part of the problem or all the things you don’t know about– but my sweet they have a right to be furious and you have to persevere.

And I promise it is like a riding a bike – once you care and you engage you always will and from here on you will always be becoming better informed, better at communicating and better at creating solutions.

So take the time to breathe, to really read and listen and think so you can form your own opinion. Then keep talking, keep listening, keep voting. Be respectful and be kind. Be smart, be educated, be involved. Be sensitised.

Like that tweet said – this a moment in history and who you are now is who you are going to be.

It’s better to be someone who cared and talked about it. Be a person who tried and that way maybe we can be a people who created some change.

(So the busiest part of the semester is coming up and writing posts is still daunting and difficult so I’m actually going to do the opposite of what I’ve done this year, drag myself back to my summer roots and try to post as often as I can. Mainly because this is a weird time in the world and there is stuff to say. – also I write more when I’m procrastinating my essays)

See you soon xx

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