I’m overwhelmed. Yeah, I said it. I’m overwhelmed. That’s why I haven’t really written anything over the last few weeks. But I couldn’t keep all of this in. We are in trouble!
These last few months have been horrible for humanity and as we get closer to the new year, I fear what’s to come in 2016. It felt like every other day was a new news story about how horrible humans are to each other and to other animals. I read stories on at least 2 bombings within a few days of each other: one in Beirut and the other in Paris, though only one of those actually got media coverage but we’ll save that discussion for another day. Then after the bombings, the palpable xenophobia spewed by US Senators and “leaders” who vehemently opposed the relocation of thousands of Syrian refugees to the US because the bombers were supposedly carrying Syrian passports, was horrible. Plus, it was found to not be true. All the bombers were EU citizens.
Then over Thangstaken (Thanksgiving to most folks) weekend, there was a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado AND then just about a week after that, there was a mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA which is so, so close to where my family lives in Southern California. So, yes I am overwhelmed; overwhelmed by the hatred, fear and just outright injustice happening in the world.
During a time of crisis, I can get paralyzed by that overwhelmed feeling. I don’t know what’s the first step in getting back to where we were before. But also feel helpless in wanting to help the greater good but don’t know where to turn to help. So, I get stuck. And I know I’m not the only one because I’ve heard people comment on it before. We don’t know what to do. So we stay right where we are for who knows how long until the numbness wears off and the media stops talking about the downspiral of our world and starts talking about The Kardashians’ drama. Then, all is well with the world, right? Wrong.
The Kardashians are the least of our worries. They are just a distraction from what’s really important.
Just because our focus goes from global highlights to what new highlights Kim K got, doesn’t mean that the world goes back to being OK. It never was or ever will be OK. I know may I sound like a Donnie Downer but I want to be clear that our world is not good and it won’t get better with us sitting on the couch, like I’m doing now, and praying that things will get better, not what I’m doing now, obviously.
As a vegan, who is a womyn and also brown, I have no room, time or ability to focus on one cause and since I know that they are all intersectional, working on one issue doesn’t make sense. But I do think that finding what your passionate about is important and then being in solidarity with other issues is important too.
We can’t be single-issue. We need to care about more. We need to be intersectional.
What does this all mean?
Maybe you’re really passionate about animal rights and are a vegan, like myself. You spread YouTube videos made by PETA all over your social media. You go to rallies and meetings about ways to get involved around the rights of animals. But you also go to immigrant rights rallies because you understand that those that work in slaughter houses or pick your fruit and veggies, are migrants from other countries that are also being exploited by companies because of their poor wages and working in poor conditions.
Or maybe you are an anti-capitalist. You don’t like capitalism knowing that it will never work for the good of the majority and will do anything for the all mighty dollar. And you understand the intersection with this and the animal agriculture industry. You understand that the animal ag industry has made animals into commodities and so, instead of seeing them as sentient beings, the industry sees them as dollar signs and so treats them as such. So you became vegetarian, knowing that it helps alleviate the demand for meat and helps the animals.
This may sound like common sense to some folks. But maybe not to all. So let me be clear:
We can care about more than just one issue! We can, and should be, multi-issue carers!
But what if you’re not involved at all? What to do then?
Maybe your involvement is that you sometimes give donations to canvassers on the street working for Greenpeace or The Sierra Club. Maybe you donate some of your old clothes and jackets to shelters for people without homes. But that’s the extent of it and with all that’s happening in the world, you want to do more. Go with that feeling! Volunteer at an organization a few hours a week. As the Co-Director of an organization, volunteers can make or break a program sometimes. There is always a need. Finding an organization that needs your skills and talent is key. Using a website like Volunteermatch.org is a great place to start. Also, Idealist is also a great place to look for opportunities to get involved in many different issues.
I believe that people are inherently good. Maybe it’s a misguided thought but well, call me an idealist. But I do. I believe people are inherently kind and they lose their way somehow when that kindness isn’t there. But what I do know, is that when people come together for the greater good of the world, come together for something outside of their own individual benefit, magic does happen. I’ve seen it. And so I believe in the power of the people. I believe that one person can make a difference and so if one person can, imagine what we can do with a large group of us. We can better the world for all, human and non-human animal.
So whether you care about animals, immigrants, race, gender, sexuality etc., there is a need for you to step out of your comfort zone and be vocal about every other kind of oppression or take that first step to get involved on any issue. Go out and be in solidarity with people who are different than you, who have different experiences. Stand up for others. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for the earth.