When I was younger, my parents often told me that with great privilege comes great responsibility. That sentence played in my mind throughout my life, and it’s on repeat lately. I was born into a life of great privilege. I am a white, straight, able-bodied woman, from a financially stable family, who grew up in a Christian household.
Never have I experienced bias or prejudice, and I certainly never felt fear of being exactly who I am. This is a privilege to be able to say so, and it’s something afforded to very few. And obviously, it’s not okay.
In heeding my parents advice from long ago, it’s my responsibility within my privilege to learn, to speak up, and to help usher change. The world is in desperate need of change, and as I also have the great privilege of a platform, I have to speak up about things that matter, about dismantling hate, and about how I intend to be a better human in this world.
The tragic event that transpired this week in New Zealand was gut-wrenching, yet not totally surprising. We live in a divided, fear-based world. Fifty human beings were killed for being alive, for practicing a religion, and for praying. It is apparent that no country is spared from this disease of hatred and separation.
In moments like these we see calls for prayers and love, which are important. But we also need to hear the call to go within to see how we can personally do better. We need to uncover how we can be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
It’s important that we get uncomfortable with ourselves, so that we can heal the wounds that have brought us to this state. We cannot just send love and light, we have to dive deeply into our souls and see we aren’t being that love, and fix it.
The complicated part about righting wrongs, in a global sense, is that we all have to do the work. I’m committed to doing the work, and if you’re here on this site every week, I imagine you are too. And I’m really grateful for that.
These are some of the practices I’m incorporating into my life, and I hope you might be inspired to do the same.
1. Get to know who you really are. So much pain and confusion stems from a lack of foundation from within. Cultivate a strong relationship with yourself, and really love who you are.
2. Learn about other people’s life experiences, and be open to listening and learning. We all come from incredibly unique circumstances and have different life paths, in opening up to other people’s perspectives we find common ground.
3. Get to know what you value. Do you know what your values are? What are you committed to? What truths do you hold dearly that you are willing to stand up for? It’s important to know so that if you see someone impeding on something you value, you’ll speak up about it.
4. Ask questions. Often times we think, act, and behave in certain ways because of family tradition, social circumstance, or for other cultural reasons. Don’t be afraid to ask why, and if things don’t sit right with you, don’t be afraid to be different.
5. Be a light in your own circle. It can be difficult to have uncomfortable conversations like these, but when we open the door to understanding we inspire others to do the same.
6. Be active in the decision making systems. Remember the importance of using your voice and voting on your values when placing people into power.
7. Open your ears to other perspectives. Step out of your common bubble and be open to seeing another point of view.
8. Get off of the internet and go congregate with your community. The problems of the world won’t be solved online, and it’s obvious that much of the problems of the world stem from the internet. Take time away from your screen and go be with the people in your area.
9. Don’t look away when things are difficult. We must be able to face these difficult moments, rather than hide in fear.
10. Speak up when you see an injustice. Often times hateful acts fall under the radar because we don’t speak up. We all must use our voices for the common good, whenever there is opportunity to do so.
I hope and pray that blogs like these won’t be required in our lifetime, and I maintain faith that we can be the change to do so.
If you’re interested in learning more about dismantling hatred and racial bias, I highly recommend learning from Rachel Cargle (@rachelcargle) and Layla F. Saad (@laylafsaad). Their work is important and necessary in the world right now.
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org