A photo of mine from the BLM march I attended in June
Look to the future for a second. What do you see? A society like the one we have now… or a better one? One that listens, one that seems interested in improving and not condemning? A place of hope and forgiveness, cherishing mistakes as they pave the way to change. A void of acceptance where people can speak without fear of judgement. Can you imagine that, just for a moment? No, me neither.
But that doesn’t mean it cannot be. Our perspective is vital in this as with perspective comes action. A shift in thought could have the biggest change of all but perhaps it is the hardest to shake. How does one even measure perspective? It is easy to talk philosophically without any productive meaning so let’s confirm the context. Back in June, I went to London and marched in the BLM protests. In the middle of lockdown I put myself at risk and also those I was living with which was seen by some as selfish. The decision for me was a simple one as the personal guilt and sadness overweighed any other opinion that might have mattered before. On returning, I read an article that broke my heart. The writer, in short, condemned my generation for fighting the injustice to the point at which he said, ‘how can a generation expect to fight injustice when they cannot even clean their own room.’
“There is indeed psychological research that suggests making your bed in the morning will help your mindset for the rest of that day.”
Now, the specifics here are not relevant to my argument. People of all ages clean their room and others, of all ages, decide not to. There is indeed psychological research that suggests making your bed in the morning will help your mindset for the rest of that day. This is neither here nor there. What upset me was their passive ignorance and utter rejection of a group of people trying to do the right thing. The article mentioned the problem of protesting – nothing but a lot of voices shouting with no embedded solution. This again is accurate in some regard, but we can see peaceful protesting as the forming of a solution; one must recognise the problem before one unveils a solution.
A person must also mourn. When a young man’s dying face is spread worldwide in the space of twelve hours there leaves little control to what happens afterwards. The BLM protests in this country felt like a funeral. To personally show respect to the lives subjected to systemic inequality and to mourn those that lost their life to it is a person’s right. It is also a right to do this without being subjected to judgement. It doesn’t seem a big ask. So, why, in this generation particularly, does it seem we cannot step outside the boundaries of expectation and ask for change without experiencing commendation from above as if we are the problem?
My own response to this article was – after some outward ranting to my laptop – kindness. This is what we must encourage together. Understandably, kindness is difficult to master absolutely, especially when some people seem to be set on offending, upsetting and belittling the good ones. Perhaps it is the new trend to be cold-hearted. The sad fact, however, is we need everyone on board for change to happen and the first step to this is patient understanding. There appears a sequence of fighting hate with hate, particularly online, which has birthed the mindset that opinion outweighs kindness. This is the crux of the problem and when we multiply this by the mass of content experienced everyday it feels we have become a washing machine of information that never ends, it just gets wetter, heavier and utterly misshapen until all the clothes are one colour and there is no truth to be found.
If you were the laundry that had to detach this mass of clothes, how would you go about it? Would you take scissors and cut away until everything is broken, a frayed mess of sopping shirts and pockets? And then refund your customers, and tell them the washing machine broke, there was no way back for their beloved pair of socks their dead grandpa left them? Or would you slowly thread away the zips from the ties and unravel the sleeves until everything is whole again? Needless to say you will definitely have to work overtime to achieve this but isn’t everyone working overtime these days?
“This is the first sign of madness.”
It is very easy to preach smugly about kindness. I myself am no Jesus Christ reincarnation. It is also easy to agree with this and then go about the day to day life of opinion over kindness. As humans, we are particularly flawed to repeat mistakes with the hope the outcome will be different. This is the first sign of madness. Well, we are mad. We are all absolutely mad. But let’s shift that perspective to hopeful madness and see where that gets us. Small steps will win the race, but if you act gently, with compassion and truth, you won’t have to compete at all.
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