My Lethargic Friends: Can I Have A Word With You?
Hello there. Yes, you. My friend, my colleague, my loved one, my companion in this life. I’d like to have a word with you, because I am frustrated and I am tired of some stuff you’ve been doing. Let me explain…
Growing up, I remember so many people telling me I could be whatever I want. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed helping people in need and I had a lot of ways of making that happen. Up until high school, I wanted to become a doctor. Then I had thoughts about becoming a lawyer. Then my heart became part of the human rights movement, focusing on social justice and interfaith cooperation.
When I tell people what I do to help communities humanize each other and collaborative for comprehensive solutions, they reply in amazement and genuine kindness. I appreciate the support they give me. But, for some reason, they also find the urge to tell me things like: “I can’t wait for you to save the world!” “When are you becoming President?” How’s all that chaos coming along? You must be really busy lately.”
In my current endeavors as an activist, my future and my workload are always unpredictable. Being on call for a variety of different projects, initiatives, and emergency responses for calamities is how my day usually looks. I and thousands of others around the country try our very best to absolve the world of natural, social, and legal injustices that hurt communities everywhere and it’s never going to get easier. Day by day, more people are in pain. More injustices enthrall our world and more people fall victim to the darkness. Trust me when I say that even though this work is an arduous uphill battle for an exacerbating world, I consider it a privilege and a blessing to do what I can to help our planet and its inhabitants.
But I want to make something very clear to you. Are you ready? Okay. Here it goes…
I am not your fucking savior.
As a person with deep religious convictions, I do turn to God to relieve my stress and reinstill the sanity and hope once lost. And as a person who knows that we are instilled with the power of free will, I must resort to my use of knowledge, reason, and resources to further strive for justice and equity. What I have come to realize in my faith and conscience is that I enact my faith in God through my service; the light of the Divine shines brightest when our legs march in prayer on the streets and our hands get dirty serving others with the deepest love that can come to exist.
Before you stop reading, know that I’m not saying this in malice. This isn’t an excuse for me to quit my work, which I‘ve grown to love more with every passing day. This is also not an excuse to lash out on people I don’t know about, because I have to remind myself that people are not as dedicated to the work that I do. I say this to challenge the apathy that resides in those people who have found themselves riddled with their own trials and tribulations. I say it to those people who think it is okay to not care about the world they reside in; I say it to those people who think that the world revolves around them. To them I ask: What the hell makes you think that only a handful of people can fix things that are going on right now? What gave you the idea to become less accountable to this earth and think that was okay? How cynical can you really be?
Whether you look at this through a religious lens or a secular point of view, no single person or idea will solve the problems of the world. Just let that obvious reminder sink in. Better yet, get it as a tattoo somewhere where everyone can see it. You know why? Because it requires EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to play our part in this strange play called Reality. If we can cause the problems and make them worse, we can be the cause that eradicates these plagues from our soil.
There’s seems to be this idea that comes out of a lot of religious traditions, and indeed out of our systems of government and society, that there is someone destined or chosen to solve all of our problems. Some profess this as a savior to come, some claim this as a leader coming to power, and others are likely looking for a scapegoat so that they find solace. For those truly seeking the stability, equality, and sustainability of a good future, it becomes the responsibility of every able-bodied and able-minded individual to make a positive impact on people’s lives and on our ecosystem. You are the keeper of humankind, the torchbearer of justice, a savior manifested into flesh and blood, and a leader willing to do what is right no matter what.
No, I don’t want you to quit what you’re doing for a living. No, I don’t want you to become the leading spiritual guide or philanthropist that the world has ever seen. All I want you to do is just do what you are able to do to be the change.
Before this even crosses your mind, let me also say this:
BEING MORE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN ACTIVIST.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great places for discussion and gathering various perspectives, but it’s not the panacea for your apathy to the world. Being aware and informed is one thing, being a part of the comprehensive and active solution is another. Disseminating facts and true stories is the foundation stone for nations steeped in ignorance and fear of difference, but it’s the first step to a much longer journey ahead. We need feet on the ground, we need ballots in the box, we need every single person to show that their complacency does not put them under house arrest. It should motivate you to do more when you are capable to do so.
If you’ve gotten this far, you probably do care about someone or something that is bigger than you or that is need of redemption. Find the energy to hold on to your desire for righteousness and do what needs to be done.
If you have money and resources to donate to something, do it (Puerto Rico, Mexico, Florida, and Texas will bear witness to your generosity. Toiletries, medicine, food, even blood are some of the many things needed.)
If you have the energy and time, donate them to organizations that need people on the ground. (Los Topos in Mexico and a variety of nonprofits in disaster ridden areas and conflict zones need your help with translation, collecting and organizing supplies, and more.)
If you need to call your elected officials to make your voice clear, do it. (Call the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224–3121 or visit the House and Senate websites to see who represents you in Congress and see where they stand on the issues that matter. You have city councils, state houses and senates, and commissions that need you to speak up as well.)
If you need to march to bring back the honor to those dishonored in our world, do it. (There are some mighty fine people at the Women’s March and the March for Science that need you on the frontlines.)
Do what you do for others not just because you wish the same to be done for it. Do it because it must be done and you are the vessel to make it happen.
So please, take my words to heart. Please, for the love of all things wonderful in this world, take your burden of the world off my shoulders. Make no mistake, I am there if you need me. I am there to help you with the things that you may not be able to do. But I cannot do everything for you. And you cannot expect anyone to do everything for you. If you can breathe on your own, eat on your own, sleep on your own, and live on your own… Then you can help others do the same. Do something before your apathy consumes you and make you complicit in the oppression of others. Your silence and inaction will turn you into the very evil that we’ve sought to escape since the beginning of time. The evil of a dissatisfied and deteriorated soul.