First of all, I hope you are managing to cope as well as you can through this absolute shocker of a year. 2020 is a bad one for a lot of reasons, but not due to the fact that it is some kind of jinxed year full of endless crap, but because the circumstances of this year have enabled so many systemic issues to come to light. Many major things have happened in the world, and within peoples families, personal lives, and careers, but some of the most notable things that we have witnessed, wept over and fought for are the catastrophic bush fires we had here in Australia, the inescapable impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the overall struggle for a sense of normalcy and good mental health in this difficult time. We’ve witnessed first hand how fragile a neo-liberal system of government and economy is, and how close we are to the edge of chaos as left and right wing politicians continue to babble like children in the playground. So today I want to talk about something that I’m sure we can all relate to, and it’s something that I’ve been feeling the wholllleeeee way through 2020 so far and the main reason I’ve found myself unable to write and create the past few months; frustration and fatigue.
What has prevented me from writing about many of the core issues facing us in 2020 is a combination of a deep sense of despair and helplessness, and the frustration of knowing that in a few weeks the attention span of the world would lapse whilst the horrific nature of the events occurring would continue. This comment is particular to the BLM movement. When these protects were occurring at their peak, many of us worked to share content, sign petitions , have difficult conversations and donate when we could whilst there were many thoughtful voices from the communities effected calling people to action. I think the viral conversations around human rights and equality are incredibly overdue, and I plan to write a more comprehensive blog about this in the near future, but of course the frustration is that once these conversations appear to hit their peak, public interest slowly but surely peters off. Which fucking sucks.
Dealing with frustration and fatigue in 2020 is a whole new ball game, especially when every time you look to the media and much of our social networking feeds there are countless things waiting to make you feel sick and angry. It’s sure to make you feel exhausted, and to be honest, quite numb to the horror of what is occurring. How depressing it is that when we see yet another article about a black man or woman being killed somewhere in the world, or when another report of sexual assault emerges, or when the president of the United States says another racist, sexist or homophobic thing, it almost rolls over us, having somewhat lost all of its shock-value. This horrific behaviour has become so normalised. How is this the world that we live in and tolerate? How are these things so common that we barely react anymore? I don’t know about you, but this is not the world I want for myself or my peers.
Again, thinking about all of this brings on the frustration, the fatigue. But we would be daft to think that we are passive participants in this world. What sits at the core of our ability to either be passive participants or change-makers is the need to call on resilience, even when it it feels hopeless. Especially when it feels hopeless.
Here are a few ways that you can have an impact, and I encourage you to not only do what you can from the list below, but find your own ways to help and be a part of the crowd pushing for positive change.
- Educate yourself on your privilege. If you are a white person, purchase ‘Me and White Supremacy’ from any good book store or online. This book will help you to identify the ways in which you lean into your privilege and perpetuate racism, even if you think you aren’t an overt racist, or that you are one of the ‘good ones’. We are all influenced by the structures of society, so it’s important that we look deeper within ourselves and do the uncomfortable work to be better allies. Find books, documentaries and articles, consume content by people of colour and build your ability to empathise and mobilise to change systemic issues and call out your own complicity.
- Sign petitions and learn more about important community issues! Find petitions that fights for things you believe in and put your name behind them. Something you can get behind at the moment for Aboriginal Australians is the Free the Flag movement. Did you know that the Aboriginal flag is copyrighted so it cannot be used freely by the Australian community? Check out this article by The Conversation for more information, and sign the petition to Free the Flag here
- Have uncomfortable conversations. When your uncle makes a racist joke at family dinner, call him out. If your friend makes a homophobic comment about a queer person wearing makeup, tell them it’s not okay. When someone jokes that women love drama and are bitches, question their blatant expression of misogyny. Work to educate, and if they shut you down or don’t want to hear it, I give you personal permission to not include them in your lives anymore. If someone is only friends with you because you are white, or cisgendered, or look like them, does that mean that they really respect you? What if you weren’t? What would they be saying about you then? Understand that these people’s behaviour says everything about who they are, and nothing about the person they are commenting on.
If you can work on incorporating these things into your life, I promise you that by the end of 2020 you will probably still feel fatigued and all together over the world (which is totally fair), but you will also be a smarter, more compassionate person, and more aware of your own ability to create change.
I believe in you to do the uncomfortable work, because that’s where the truest form of understanding is born.