I know yesterday I said I would be posting every day this week with five things I am grateful for, since it’s the week of Thanksgiving, yadda yadda ya. I sat down after work to do just that and realized I can’t. Well, that’s not true. I knew last night that I couldn’t. That something needed to be said about what is happening in the country right now.
Last night, the grand jury announced their decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August of this year. The evidence and court transcripts were released and are available to the public. There have been protests, gatherings and, in some cases, riots in response to the news.
It is a time that is extremely emotional for everyone. Social media outlets are loud, buzzing, angry, distraught. There is fear for loved ones, for lives of those in areas where reactions are potentially violent, for those who may be impacted in other ways in the days to come.
So here we go. Five things you can do right now in light of what is happening.
1. Be educated: gather information. Read. Question. Look at what is credible and not credible by turning to different sources. Make your own opinions, even if they are not the same opinions as everyone else.
2. Be aware: not just about what is happening around you physically but emotionally, socially. Take note of yourself as a person and the words you use and the actions you take. Consider the impact of that tweet, or status, or picture. Think of how you would act if you were in a room with people you don’t know. Act conscientiously.
3. Stand for love: no matter what side you take, ask yourself where your belief comes from. Is this sentiment rooted in love for the world you live in, the people around you? Or is it from feelings of superiority, inconvenience or pain? Do you want to raise people up or let them wallow wherever they may be?
4. Don’t mistake “drama” for “activism”: last night, I had to make an effort to step away from the computer. It’s hard to not get pulled into the emotional raucous that is happening in front of you. It’s like a mosh pit: sometimes you just end up in it, sometimes you feel drawn to it. Don’t get involved in the finger-pointing, name-calling, communal hand-wringing. Never let anyone decide how you are going to react to something.
5. Remain present: life is happening right now, all around you. You aren’t doing anyone any good mulling, sulking, pouting and complaining. Live. Do what you’re supposed to be doing. If you want to help, do something tangible: write a letter to local, state, federal officials; donate to a cause; volunteer in cleanup. Do what you can.
Be the change you want to see in the world.