With all the massive upheaval in our world at this time, you may feel as if there’s nothing you can do that will make a difference. I beg to differ. Whether we are thinking about the pandemic or about the injustice of the recent death of George Floyd and others, or its accompanied racism in our country, there is clearly a lot happening all around us. If someone would have told you in July 2019 that our world would look like it does today, you likely would not have believed them, and yet here we are. So, what can we do?
Firstly, it is important that we acknowledge how hard life has been for many of us and to recognize that any emotions we are feeling are understandable. I would like to make a distinction though that while the pandemic and the traumatic loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others has affected all of us, it has affected each of us differently. More specifically, some people have had coronavirus, others have lost family and/or friends to it, others have had to shut their businesses down and lost money, others have been able to collect unemployment and yet others have actually taken a bit of a ‘staycation’ at home and enjoyed the different pace of life. Also, some people have attended protests, others have donated money to African American organizations, and some have prayed. Again, while the state of our world has impacted everyone, it has not impacted everyone in the same way. That said, we all choose our response.
Secondly, if you have felt overwhelmed and unsure how to manage through this profoundly different time, you are not alone. How could we all not feel those feelings? This is normal. Many of us want to do something to help but are unsure what to do. There are many things we can do to help ourselves, our families, our friends, neighbors, society and our country. There is no one right way to respond. The only ‘right’ way to respond is asking yourself what you are willing to do to make a difference and then DO IT. Let it be in line with your values, and also to be able to contribute to making a positive difference in our society. Every step counts. You may think that buying your neighbor groceries doesn’t make a difference in political policy and it may not but it certainly made a huge difference in your neighbor’s life. You may think that reading a book on racism or what it is like to be a black person in a white person’s world may not help, but how could it not? The more informed we are, the more we can consciously choose how to respond. Ignorance is not bliss. Last, you can stay positive and hopeful. Look back at history to see how our country has weathered many storms, I believe we will weather all of these too-the coronavirus, the racism virus, the hatred virus. Life is too short and I imagine that you want the best (as you see it) for you and your loved ones. Why not contribute in a kind, loving, and respectful way? That is what you can do.
By Stacey Rose, PhD, LCSW