These times have been hard on almost everyone in some way or another. In the past 2+ years (or maybe in the past 6+ years), we’ve learned that no-one is immune from the world’s problems: the challenges of global pandemics, the horror of being invaded by another country, or the massively destructive long-term impacts of man-made climate change. We’ve learned that people aren’t in agreement about whether we should, as a society, try to make things better for everyone or whether we should just look out for ourselves; the “I’m all right, Jack” approach or, even worse, the “I’m all right, Jack, and I’ll screw you whenever possible” approach.
We’ve been reminded that our political leaders don’t necessarily agree on what’s in their constituents’ – or the world’s – best interest, although they do agree that getting re-elected is a good thing. We’ve been reminded that capitalism, when it is unfettered by regulations that ensure living wages and environmental protections, allows the rich to get richer, the middle class to shrink, and the working class to get poorer. We’ve learned that while the cost of groceries and transportation skyrocket beyond the reach of so many people living from paycheque to paycheque, other people have superyachts! Superyachts!! Un-friggin’-believable.
From the Economist
So, yes, this former optimist has lost her zing for the world becoming a more peaceful, more understanding place. Peace and understanding seems to be in short supply at the moment, which is heartbreaking to have to acknowledge.
I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Rose Vettleson, from Minnesota in the U.S., typically writes heartening posts of hope and kindness in her blog Of All the Things I’ve Ever Dreamed. A February post on Equality starts like this:
I dream of a world where Equality is as natural as breathing. Quite honestly, there’ve been many times this past year (and many more times during my life) where watching the inequality unfold around me, felt like a nightmare. It overwhelmed me, breaking my heart. I’m disgustedly perplexed by how one group of humans can behave so horribly to another group of humans – for no reason. All we have to do is look around us to see how treating people unequally ruins lives and futures for generations. Imagine how much misery we could erase if we treated each other equally.
It’s easy to hate from afar. We can hate and dismiss anyone we ‘think’ is different from us. It’s harder to hate someone whose story you know personally. Whenever possible, take the opportunity to talk with people and learn their story.
Rose discusses inequality in many domains in this short, readable post. She includes examples of racism, the fight for women’s rights, and injustices towards people coming out of poverty (such as herself). And she ends with an important reminder:
No one has the right to be a racist, sexist, bigoted bully.
Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to learn, work, and be heard.
Put everything you’ve ever been told about ‘other groups’ aside. Get to know people’s individual story, and be sure to give the proper response.
From the UK, retired NHS nurse and counsellor Margiran calls her blog ‘Connection’ because, as she says, “I think that is what life is about, in a variety of different ways. Building bridges, not barriers…. I know, often difficult isn’t it?! But we need to try.”
Judging by her post earlier this week, Margiran is finding the world’s inability to build these bridges as concerning as I am these days. Her post The Common Good starts like this:
Global effects of the covid pandemic and the Ukraine/Russian War are making our lives more difficult financially. People who are already struggling are being hit hard. So when I hear it said that ‘successful’ people deserve their wealth, lives of luxury and good standards of living because they ‘work hard’ I question their reasoning. The implication, as I understand it, is that those who are poor, struggling, impoverished or destitute don’t work hard because when you do it’s all there for the taking …… you just need to ‘work hard’ to be a success, to be wealthy, to make it to the top! Well this doesn’t sound right to me.
The question arises as to what those of us who seek to appeal to the better nature of homo sapiens – the caring and responsible side – can do to help build better bridges between us. What can we do to help others who need a hand up?
Blogger Shira Destinie Jones, in California, is working on one answer, and she is looking for helpers! Shira has been working very hard on an ambitious long-term project: Project Do Better. Here’s a brief summary of the Do Better project:
This project began as the Four Freedoms Movement, formed on the basis of a problem, and the faith that any problem can be solved.
I have been pondering the problem of how to protect children from abusive adults, whether they be family or non-related guardians. The conclusions around this issue are not simple, because the issue, and the underlying causes of child abuse, are also not simple. There is a fairly simple way, however, of improving the lives of kids, and adults who take care of them: make sure they all have decent and safe housing, food, clothing, and health care.
These thoughts reminded me of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous Four Freedoms, and I began to wonder what it would take to get us there. The need for a basic safety net for kids, and how to get there from here, led me to imagine a series of steps that we could take, leading to a safer and kinder society, with enough for all of us, and especially for all kids. Breaking those steps up into a set of phases that could be worked on in 15-20 year chunks led me to begin outlining a book, which is now in the fifth draft stage, under the current working title of Do Better. This book will be offered free of charge, as my life’s work. All volunteers who wish to contribute to this project are welcome.
Shira is looking for beta test readers for her 5th draft. If you might be interested in being one of her readers, or just finding out more about her ambitious and inspiring project, you can contact her most easily by writing a comment of interest at the end of her blog post.
If you have other ideas about how we can engage as individuals to help bring peace and hope to more corners of planet Earth, please feel free to share your thoughts. There are many of us wanting to join – or rejoin – the positivity train.