A friend recently asked me to write a happy blog to offset all the sadness in the news lately. It’s so painful to see all the hurt, hatred and violence that have become a part of our lives. When each new tragedy occurs, my heart breaks for all the victims and their families. And I am angry that nothing changes.
This is my effort to make sense of our nation and the world we live in. And although I don’t think I can do “happy,” I can do hopeful.
Feeling The Impact Of Racism, Bigotry And Hate In Daily Life
Being a therapist, I know the negative impact that racism, bigotry and hate have on our mental health and our physical well-being. Being a woman, I know the harmful effects of sexism and sexual violence. And I have family, friends, colleagues, clients and classmates who’ve also felt the adverse impact of racist, bigoted, hateful incidents ranging from microaggressions to assault. I also know that I am white and middle class, and as a result, have certain privileges that many people in our country do not.
In the wake of the recent killing of recent shootings of young black men by police officers, and the five police officers who were killed at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, it’s hard to make sense of what’s happening in the world or to find any hope that things will get better.
History Offers Hope For Change
Fortunately, history tells us that change can come from difficult times. Peaceful and violent demonstrations have brought about significant changes in our society.
I believe that real change can come. But before it can happen, those of us with power and privilege (like me) have to be open and ready to have uncomfortable conversations about the existing problems and to accept that many inequalities persist in our society.
Incorporating Activism In Daily Life
How can we become open and ready? I am no activist, but here is what I believe I can do:
· I can make an effort to listen all my clients, family, friends, colleagues and strangers. I can try to understand their experience from their perspective, and be truly empathetic.
· I can be aware and acknowledge that real problems exist and to be ready to learn about them with an open mind and heart.
· I can learn about the differences of all cultures and races, and their differences, with curiosity and compassion, instead of with judgment and hatred.
· Lastly, I can communicate and educate others about how the messages of racism, bigotry and hatred that I hear, see and witness each day impact all of us.
It’s Time To Open Doors, Not Close Them
Instead of closing borders and closing our hearts, I think it’s time to open them. Instead of the “us” versus “them” refrain that we continue to hear on the news, from politicians, and on social media, I believe we need a real, two-way dialog and a stronger more unifying message. We are all “us,” and we can learn to embrace, appreciate and value our individual differences.
It’s Up To Us
I believe that each individual voice, open heart and open mind can make a difference, and I will continue to have hope that these trying, difficult times, in which racism, bigotry, violence and hatred are so prevalent, can lead to lasting changes in our society and in the world.
Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is an Annapolis therapist helping people manage their stress and anxiety.