So often, I hear things like “we are the change.” Sure. Perfect. Great. But, I’ve been thinking a lot about it today. The moment WE become the change, we can also become ego-filled, righteous-feeling, “good.” See, we’ve normalized being greedy and forgetful. If someone does good things, they’re seen as a hero - or they become praised. If someone attends a protest for human rights in Syria, then wow, they must be a great person. But I mean if you think about it logically - if you were to see decapitated heads, broken bodies and death all around you - could you even imagine praising someone raising awareness over those types of issues? no. It would be the normal thing to do - it would be the human thing to do, and anything less would be animal.
I’ve begun to think about how we elevate the status of activists, and at the same time are so quick to pin the blame on opposing parties. Somehow, we dont include ourselves in the mix. I do it all the time. I say, “Capitalism sucks. I hate the Harper government. Multinationals Suck. If only the government could capture Kony.” But the more I think about it, the more I feel like….the real problems in the world are apt the ones you barely think about. The ones you control. I’ve had days where I’ve thought - Wow, Capitalism. You really suck me dry. But technically, if Capitalism was inspired by Protestant values, then shouldn’t we have an entirely beautiful welfare system? Christianity vouches loving your neighbor, doesn’t it? And sure, food bank usage under the Harper government has gone up dramatically. Of course the Conservatives need to be held somewhat responsible - but I would be interested in what response I would get if I asked you when the last time you donated to the food bank was - and if you do it often.The real issue is you and me. It’s buying the on-sale Aritzia bomber for $50.00, instead of donating it like you said you would. It’s opening an independent coffee shop in downtown eastside because it looks cute - even though you know there’s a need for low income housing and you’re not helping the cause. It’s the answer every kid in university has when asked why they’re in school: “I want to get rich.” It’s spending $5.00 on chips, but not $2.00 on donating baby food to the food bank. It’s multinational corporations run by people like us - in fact, my brother is into the stock business - that aim to provide maximum profits to shareholders. It’s the comforting ourselves with, “well, they need jobs in India - so I might as well move the factory there,” and then paying not enough heed to work conditions. It’s assuming the homeless man wants to buy cigarettes with the money you give him. It’s driving your car without thinking about the environment. It’s creating a boundary between “us” and “them” when we’re the same thing. It’s ignoring the angora label on the warm cardigan at the store, but somewhere in the back of your mind knowing this could have been made through animal abuse. It’s eating chocolate bars without being mindful about the educational sacrifices African children have made so you can enjoy the taste. It’s the passive reaction to friends gossiping behind the new kids back. It’s the reading about human rights abuses and not acting on them. It’s being ignorant of Canadian immigration policies - for example, recently in the past few months we’ve heard about Canada rejecting North Koreans. It’s the acting voiceless on our part.
The truth of the matter is, we dont need to wait for change. We dont need to wait for some organized group to take the lead. We need our voices, our hands, our homes, our action. And it doesnt make you an amazing person to be an activist - it makes you human. There is no us and them, just us. Greed lives in all of us, all that matters is if you’re fighting it. You can be poor, but just as thirsty for millions as the CEO of a successful business. It doesn’t make the poor man any better than the rich, because in the blink of an eye the exploited can become the exploiter.
Its our inaction, or passivity, our absolute ignorance, the pursuit of seemingly simple individualistic aspirations: this is the cause of injustice in the world. Its the only thing that lets its survive. I know I need to work on myself - but maybe we all do.