The Only Chance We Stand is if We Begin Significantly Extending Ourselves For One Another.
The “American way” for many people nowadays is me-centric. You do you, and I do me. I watch out for and cover my own back, and that’s about it. I’m most concerned with how I feel, with my own troubles, with my opinions and my thoughts, with my needs and desires. Many of us might feign momentary interest in the lives of friends or others, though ultimately, we are not that interested. Not truly, deeply, genuinely. Many of us are way more interested in me, myself, and I.
All of this is a huge part of why America is in such a bad way.
There are other reasons as well. Systemic, deep-seated racism that’s been prevalent in this country since, basically, forever. A hateful, divided political climate. The widespread and rampant running of ignorance, propaganda, and idiocy throughout our country is another one. The fact that for many, where they get their “news” from is from sources like Trump tweets, or via scrolling Instagram, or thought Facebook rants. Folks, this is not news. The real news is found through sources like The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, or TIME magazine, to name a few. The ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor (pretty soon, there will no longer be a middle class. It will just be the rich, and then everyone else).
America, and even the world, has no hope of surviving though (and more than merely surviving but of actually flourishing) unless we decide to extend ourselves for one another. And not just in brief, momentary ways but in significant and sustained ones.
What does this “extending ourselves for each other” look like? Many, many things. To name a handful though…
We MUST vote to rid ourselves of the disease, the tyrant, the monstrosity, the white supremacist, the rapist, the horror that has taken over our White House and managed to divide and destroy our country as we currently know it. This is number one.
He must go, or America doesn’t stand a chance. Anyone voting for him must wake up and educate themselves, now. 40 million people are without jobs. Thousands are dying every day. Depression and anxiety in this country are skyrocketing. Businesses are going under, left and right. 1 in 5 children at the moment do not know if and when they’ll get their next meal. Alcohol sales have gone through the roof. Our healthcare system is terrible, from being the primary source of people going bankrupt in our country to not having enough resources to actually help citizens when in need.
There are so many things that need to be addressed, that need attention now, that are causing the lives of a vast majority of American’s to be disheartening, even devastating. So, we must extend ourselves to change this.
That means things like protesting, going out and voting like your life depends on it (because it does), writing about it, and having crucial conversations with friends and loved ones.
Other ways in which we can, and must, extend ourselves for one another which are also immensely meaningful and will make a difference:
Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Donate to the homeless. Get out there and participate in local events geared towards those less fortunate than you.
Read. A lot. Read every day and a multitude of different things. Read books, and read articles from The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and TIME, to name a few great ones.
Pay attention and decide to actually care about and thus, honor the feelings and thoughts of people around you. Consider the words you use and how they might make others feel. Think about the ways in which you act, and how those might impact those surrounding. Decide to actually tune in fully and listen to people you are spending time with, instead of looking at your phone every five minutes. Consider: might your behavior be causing someone else discomfort, distress, or shattering someone else’s sense of well-being and peace? Dare to care about other people’s feelings and how they might be experiencing your behavior.
Do not think in ways such as, “well, I am not going to bother, because it won’t make a difference anyway.” You’re right. If everyone thinks like you in this way, there will never be any semblance of a difference made. Instead, everyone must change their thinking to, “I am going to bother because if I and everyone else decide to care and bother, a difference will be made.”
Speak up. Caring about something isn’t enough. Feeling mad about how women are treated in our culture? Not good enough. You need to find ways to speak out about it, whether via writing, having conversations with people in your life, or standing up when you see someone doing something harmful to a woman out in public. Angry about racism in this country? Good. But not good enough. You must act. The protests are great. We need to do even more. Simply sharing memes or stories on Facebook or Instagram? That’s small potatoes and but a drop in the bucket. You need to get out there into your community and do something. We must do more than posting fluffy quotes on social media with regards to the things we care about. We need to behave and act, to speak out and do something.
Pursue actions of empathy. Too many of us are far too wrapped up in our own daily lives. Think about doing something like Big Brother, Big Sister. There are so many children in need of a positive connection in their life, right now. Go to a beach or park and pick up trash. Volunteer somewhere. Pass out food to people who are hungry. Do not walk around blasting music and videos from your phone, which is highly likely to disturb and wreck the peace of fellow passerby, who your noise is being forced upon. Be considerate enough to wear headphones and relegate it to your ears only. Headphones, people. Come on. That’s what they were invented for. Let’s bring em back!
Check-in on your neighbors and offer to help them out. Bring healthcare workers dinner one evening, or a plate of cupcakes. Donate money to those in need right now, if you yourself are lucky enough not to be. Adopt a pet, if you are able. There are a plethora of pets being given away at the moment, with people not able to afford to care for them because of the crush of this pandemic on their lives.
What can you do, right now, in pulling yourself out of the little world and bubble that is “you” (aka, me) to make the life or lives of other people better? How can you reach out and offer warmth, support, or care to someone else around you? How can you care and act considerably for your fellow woman and man? How can we empathize with and be kind to one another?
And, what actions can we take to further enact change in this country? Because, folks, it’s in dire straights. We must act now, in significant ways, if there is any hope of better or saving this country. What can you do, right now, that will make a difference? Any difference.
And yes, even small differences matter. Small differences can reverberate and becomes big. You change one person’s life or way of thinking, they then act differently toward others, and this can cause a ripple effect. The small stuff matters just as much as the major. No act of making a difference is too small. So get started, now, today. It’s never been more urgent. We need you.