First Step to Fighting for Others
This message is for you if there are specific injustices in this world, which you're not the one being oppressed, but it breaks your heart and you want to be part of positive change. However, you're feeling overwhelmed by the size of the problem, wondering if you can even help and those thoughts keep you from even showing up.
I've experienced both sides of injustice, and seen the harm done when people don't show up because of being overwhelmed. I'm a survivor of sexual assault and I've experienced firsthand the injustices of how survivors are treated, and how the silence and inaction of others actually help perpetuate sexual predators to continually cause sexual harm to other people. I've also been on the other side of injustice in which I am not the one being oppressed, but my heart breaks for those injustices, and at times, overwhelm could keep me from stepping up to help.
In this message, I draw from both of those experiences to help you find ways to overcome overwhelm so you can stand up against injustices that are important to you. Let's start by talking about the two problems that occur when we don't show up.
The First (and Most Important) Step
Too often people don't show up in areas of injustice because they think that it'll be too complicated. They don't know where to begin. But the great news is that the access point is so easy and readily accessible.
It's education. That is the first and most important step that anyone can take.
Again, this message is for those who are not the target of the oppression, those who have not experienced it first hand. If you have not experienced this oppression firsthand, then you need to educate yourself.
Available, Low Cost, & Accessible
The great news is that education is readily available by a simple Google search. It's typically free or very low cost, such as a book or a webinar, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
The issue is when we hear "education" we often think, "oh, I'm already educated. I already know this."
But unless you have dived into work that was created specifically to educate people on injustices, then there's so much more you need to learn.
You need to learn from those who have been oppressed because your reality is not other people's reality when it comes to the injustice you are focusing on.
Don't Let Hollywood Be Your Teacher
We also often let Hollywood's depiction of situations be our truth. For example, in movies, the depiction of someone who sexually assaults an adult is typically a stranger. However, in reality, only 20% of sexual assault cases are committed by someone that the victim doesn't know. In 80% of cases the victim does know their perpetrator. But that's not what's portrayed in Hollywood. However, if we let that be our only source of education, then we think that to be true.
Another example is "Gone With The Wind" in which they depict a glorified version of slavery, which could not be further from the truth, from the horrors and abuse of slavery.
I cry every single time I watch "Remember the Titans," which indicates this is something that breaks my heart and I'm very passionate about, but it was created to be a film with a message. It was not created to be a piece of education about racial injustice.
Yes, there are many different snapshots it gives us and it does teach some things. But that was not the sole point of why it was created. Thus, to say that I understand racial injustice because I have seen "Remember the Titans" would be completely inaccurate and foolish of me.
Seek out pieces of education about the injustice that were created to be pieces of education about the injustice.
Remember, if you are not the one who has experienced this oppression, there is no way you can know the truth and the depths of it. We must learn from those who have experienced it.
Before I was assaulted, I believed so many misconceptions about sexual assault, about the victims, about perpetrators of it. When I became a survivor, it was as if a veil had fallen, and I saw the truth, and I realized how I have been blinded by those misconceptions, in that I may have even been causing harm by saying some of those misconceptions to survivors, by thinking all these wrong things about sexual assault.
Those misconceptions, as well as misconceptions of any other injustice, can cause so much harm - and typically halts progress being made in regards to those injustices.
This is why it's so important to be educated, and also to make sure that education is coming from those who have experienced that oppression. By educating yourself, you're creating changes that you can be a safer place for those who are oppressed.
You can know more about where you can step in and how, and you're going to have the words and the education to interject into conversations that are perhaps upholding some of those misconceptions. So you can help create change amongst others as well.
Education is powerful, it is action, and is the first and most important step you can take.
How Do I Begin to Educate Myself on Injustices?
Here's how . . . podcasts, documentaries, books, etc. Again,the vast majority of your education needs to come from the people who have been oppressed, and it needs to come from pieces of education that were created to be pieces of education.
You can also learn from others who have not been oppressed, but who have learned from people who have been oppressed. However, I would say that the majority of your education needs to come from those people who have experienced it firsthand.
The people that have been in this fight for a very long time, know the in's and out's, know what they're talking about, have already walked this road. And as you continue to learn and build up your curriculum of education, you're going to come across many names of people who have been in this fight for a long time.
The great thing about social media is that you can then follow these people, and by doing so you'll to continue to learn how you can show up in different ways based on the gifts, energy, time, money, etc. that you have.
So how do you start on this education? Very simple. Type in a Google search the name of the injustice that you're focusing on in the word education. So it could be "racism education," "sexual assault education," "LGBTQ+ education."
You can also switch the word "education" for "injustices." It is not going to take you long to come up with tons and tons of resources.
So know that the first step is so easy, it's just at the end of your fingertips. As you become more educated, you'll find all these different ways that you can help. You'll come across tons of organizations that are doing fantastic things that have easy ways for you to step in, and be part of the fight in different ways.
So find out how you can help with what you have and at a pace that can allow you to stay in the fight.
Practices to Adopt to Keep Going
Now that you are stepping into this first important step of education, there are a couple of practices you need to pair up with it. These practices are things that, unfortunately, so many people do not take time to incorporate into their lives, which ends up being debilitating to the work that you're trying to do for this injustice and also to your own life.
It's the practice of self-care and rejuvenation.
You're no good to the cause, yourself, or others in your life if you are worn-out. If you don't practice self-care and rejuvenation, the length of time that you are able to be in this fight, the amount of work that you're able to do, and the toll it takes on your health and health of other areas in your life will drastically suffer.
This isn't a nice add on, it's a necessity.
In next week's message, we'll talk more about how to do this, how to adopt these practices and why they're so important. But for now, I encourage you to either take the first step in your education, or continue on it.
If this message has been helpful to you, please share it. Until next time, live a life of courageous worth which stands up for yourself and for others.