There is a lot going in the country and world right now and I think that a lot of times – the world of blogging is an escape. An escape from it all, because quite honestly – “well, that is not impacting me right now”. And to be totally transparent – I get that. I am occasionally that person, because the realities of life outside my own inner circle are scary/unsettling/too much to handle. But so much of me is sitting here repeating the following over and over to myself, something that has happened quite a few times over the past month, which has led me to pen this post. It’s a quotation from Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor, who gained recognition during World War II and post-war as a foe of Adolph Hitler and spent seven years in a concentration camp.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.1. School shootings – My God. I am horrified by it all and it goes without saying that we need to both talk about it and act on it. No part of me is okay with the number of senseless shootings (both in schools and otherwise) that seem to have become a reality. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that all of this goes well beyond just gun control. I think it’s a multi-layer issue. We need to make changes in gun control and mental health, but there is a SHIT LOAD more. The underlying societal issues run deep. Our government needs some accountability in all of this, too. There are things that slip through the cracks that are so disturbing and irritating. I don’t have all the answers but sitting in silence isn’t something any of us should be doing. As a former educator, I was equipped to deal with things like problems in lesson planning, state funding and multi-level learners, but what I wasn’t equipped for was to be a front line defender. If we can’t properly pay or allocate resources to our educators, by God we should be able to protect them. Beyond that – our nation’s children deserve to attend school and get an education without the fear of getting on the bus and never seeing their families again. It’s something (as a non-parent) that puts a knot so big in my throat I can barely swallow. I can only imagine how parents with school-age children must feel!
Take action by:
Being informed. Read up on your state’s gun control policies (this article breaks them down state by state). Talk to friends, family, community members about their thoughts. We aren’t going to get anywhere in this issue by “taking sides” and working against one another.
Calling your Congressional representative + demanding change – You can figure out who represents you in your state by using this form.
2. #AirBnbWhileBlack – I am so saddened by this and it took my friend Fidel‘s experience to bring it to my attention. Recently, he was planning a trip to San Francisco and had booked an Airbnb property to use during his stay. After messaging with the hosts and introducing himself, he was denied due to them being “in the city late”. He explained he would be checking in late due to an evening shoot (he’s a photographer), yet his booking was still cancelled. He thought it was odd, so he re-checked their property’s availability and it showed vacant. I linked the hashtag for anyone interested in exploring the numerous other experiences travelers have had. Then I stumbled upon this article and realized just how deep-seeded this issue really is and I’m PISSED. Not only is this unfair and illegal, it’s downright wrong. The article references an amazing new booking concept called Innclusive + I love not only the concept, but the story behind it. Be sure to scroll all the way to the end of the piece to check it out!
Take action by:
Educate yourself about human rights + speak up when you see injustice.
Become involved and encourage diversity at school, work, social media, etc.
Be aware of how your actions might be perceived by someone else.
3. Suicide – This is a topic that I think is an underlying issue for many, but until we are slapped across the face with it – it falls heavily into the “things that don’t personally impact me” bucket. I was slapped across the face with it two weeks ago when a friend from home committed suicide, leaving behind a beautiful wife and two wonderful baby boys. This morning I read that Glee actor Mark Salling’s death was ruled a suicide by hanging. Each day, 22 veterans resort to suicide — and those are just the reported statistics, since veteran suicide goes vastly under reported. Suicide is a very real problem.
Take action by:
Know and understand suicide warning signs and red flags. A good list can be found here.
Encouraging anyone with suicidal thoughts or feelings to contact the Suicide Lifeline
If someone you know seeks you out for help, be an active listener and guide them toward seeking help.
I know this post is a bit of a departure from my normal posting, but I also believe that there is a time and a place for breaking the ‘norm’ and inserting things into my blog that I truly want to see changed. I said it above and I’ll say it again – I don’t have all the answers and I don’t claim to. I don’t think any of us have the power to change it all, or a magic formula for eradicating violence, self-harm and racism, but if I’ve learned one thing in 29 years it’s that if you want to see change you must be it.
I would love to start a conversation below about how you’re pushing positive change in your community or issues you’ve faced or friends have faced that should be brought to light.