What a few weeks. I’ve been walking around like a zombie, with bouts of sobbing thrown in, flashes of fear, lots of anxiety-fuelled conversations, and thoughts racing like a bird trapped in a room. I don’t want to write about those moments though, as I’m still processing them, and I don’t have a lot of value to add right now.
What I do want to write about instead, is a general feeling I’m getting about the world. A world that is damaged and topsy-turvy. There are not many safe havens left. Very few places where you can escape to, where everything is blissful and stable. We’re in a state of turmoil, whichever side you look, both in our country and then further ashore as well.
But what can we do!? We can try move to the safest place there is on this planet, and feel better there, and that’s a perfectly acceptable option if that’s available to you. But even in that safe place, there’s no denying that the world is unstable. Immeasurably so. Your children may not have a planet left when they are our age anyway. Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s becoming an impossible truth to run from.
So while we throw our hands in the air and sigh out all the sadness that’s inside and feel helpless, that can’t be the end. Because once we’ve done all that sighing, we then have to go and DO SOMETHING ELSE. Because we’re entering a new era on this globe, one where none of us can afford to be fence sitters anymore.
“The only thing necessary for evil to flourish, is for a good man to do nothing,” said Edmund Burke and nowhere is that more true than today. When your children ask you one day, as they cling to their own babies, who they love more than life, “But mom, why didn’t you try and halt climate change? Why didn’t you protest against gender-based violence and give a voice to all those women who had died? Why didn’t you help those affected by xenophobia in Johannesburg? Why did you do nothing at all?”
What will you say?
“Ag but I don’t want to make a fuss, someone else will fix it for me. It’s this government’s fault, or Trump’s fault, or the country burning those forests, what can little old me do?” NEWSFLASH GUYS: While there’s no denying these facts, waiting for someone else to make it better is no longer an excuse. Our world needs active citizens.
Did you know that Generation Z (those born from around 1995 to 2010) are the biggest volunteering demographic in the world? Yes, the young ones were born into an imperfect world, and so they make fixing it part and parcel of their lives. Us oldies need to catch up. We need to mobilise. We need to take action, instead of just moaning about it. We can say we’re busy, sure. But how busy will we be in a few decades when there’s simply no earth left to be busy upon?
And by mobilising, it doesn’t have to mean quitting school/your job and devoting your life to the cause/s (although some incredible people are doing just that). It can be as simple as educating people and changing their behaviour. Here are some actions listed by Robyn Porteous on Twitter that can help fight gender-based violence (read the full thread here):
“Understand that dating violence & sexual assault affects 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys by the time they are 18. Contact your local schools and ask them to address sexual harassment.
- Speak out against all forms of violence. – Question gender roles and assumptions. – Respect and embrace diversity. – Respect a person’s – especially a child’s – right to say no.
- -Understand that putting boys and men down by calling them “ladies” and “girls” hurts everyone. – Speak out against the media’s portrayal of violence. – Learn how racism, sexism and homophobia are connected.
- Be courageous; don’t be afraid to speak up for those who have lost their voice or dignity. – Praise women and girls for something other than the way they look.
- – Speak out against racist, sexist or homophobic jokes. Empathise. – Work toward eliminating oppression of all kinds. – Think globally and act locally.”
I think the last one rings most true. We can’t solve the entire’s world’s problems but we can start by helping one person in our community, today. If you want to help organisations working to support women and children, these are so many to choose from. Rape Crisis Cape Town and The Handbag Project (rape crisis/counselling in Kwazulu-Natal) are two that come to mind, but ForGood is an awesome website that connects people to causes. They have a NoExcuse campaign for gender-based violence with some incredible initiatives around the country that need your help (something as small as donating cactuses to a rape shelter, so survivors have a tranquil place to wait).
But once you’ve done something (or six things), I know that it’s important to set boundaries and protect your own happiness. After all, you can’t help anyone else if you don’t help yourself. So be aware of the problems of the world, but don’t let it ruin YOUR WORLD. Make sure that you shut it all out frequently, and appreciate the small moments. Put away your phone, hold your partner’s hand, lie outside on a blanket, stare at the sky, listen to your children laugh. Appreciate your health, and that you have happy and healthy children. We only have this one life, and this one world, so we need to try and find a balance between shining a light out into the dark, and taking a moment to lie down in the sun, in the warmth of the world.
I know we can do it, because humans are by their nature both the light and dark.
Yours in peace,