Not Waiting for Inspiration to #GROWtogether

[Originally posted on GlobeMed.org]


Summer can be an inspiring time for many of us: the change of weather, change of pace, change of attitude. During the summer, many of us in the GlobeMed network have had experiences working with marginalized communities either in the states or abroad, and come back feeling a bit different.

I can remember a few distinct days over the last six months where I have felt genuinely uninspired by the state of the world. Many of us have felt personally connected and traumatized by the various ways in which hundreds of thousands of lives all over the world that have been lost, stolen to something that can only begin to be described as unfair. Some of us as part of those communities, and some of us as allies. It felt like something in us had changed.

When asked about how relationships foster change, how the communities I come in contact with inspire me to grow together, I began to reflect on so many of the momentous or traumatic occasions that seemed to already categorize 2015. On relationships that I had with people impacted by events happening all over the world. On Nepal, Peshawar, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Baltimore, amongst many, many others. Many of these things aren’t new at all, but culminations of systemic injustice that has been permeating for decades. But my awareness and understanding deepened during these moments of tragedy.

As a Nepali-American, I had a realization this summer that the April and May earthquakes and their permanent ramifications to Nepal’s future, will cross my mind and continue to concern me every single day. Home, family, history — I couldn’t forget it if I tried to, and I would never want to. These communities are a fundamental part of my identity.

2012, Winter: In front of Nyatapola in Bhaktapur, Nepal.

I wondered though, how soon it would take for others who had stepped up to support the immediate shock and trauma afterwards, to step back and move their energies to the next thing that started trending on Twitter, with no fault intended. With so many oppressive systems of power, it’s actually impossible to give their energy wholly and consistently and equally to every single fight out there. Was there a way to engage in all of these dialogues appropriately?

I came across a quote from Octavia Butler, a revolutionary Black female science fiction author, that brought a bit of reason to that question.

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” — Octavia Butler

Inspiration can be found from a singular, positive or tragic, event.

Habit, though, is something we do regularly. It is a practice. It’s actually hard to stop doing. Habit is the thing that will help us all polish our stories as advocates, confront our anxieties, leverage our privileges. A habit of growing together is what will help us all get by. They can form relationships that foster change.

As I continue to advocate on behalf of my own family and friends in Nepal, I’m also making a personal commitment to growing together with others, as a habit. I’m thinking about how I can be a stronger, more consistent and better informed ally to the many communities I have been welcomed into as they continue to organize for healthier and more just realities. I’m asking myself: what power do I have to make this country a more compassionate and safer place for minorities and marginalized populations? Where do I take up space and what power structures I am perpetuating? How can I become more aware of context and intersectionality and amplify more minority voices? How can I celebrate and learn more about my immigrant history in the midst of building a community here?

2012, Winter: In our village in the Gulmi District of Nepal, kids and cousins gather around as my dad points to where the village was on a printed satellite image. With little to no computer access, this was quite the eye opening moment for everyone to see their homes on a map.

I’m thinking about the supply chain of everything I consume and how the systems of people work together to make life happen in my new home of New York City. So many lives and stories exist and work together to make the subway run, to maintain the parks I walk through, and even to make food arrive. I want to understand these systems. As an active part of these communities, I want to make a habit out of growing together with them, during both the momentous times, but also the routine.

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