I have been trying to draft something that speaks to how I feel about recent world events. I continue to have a hard time trying to figure out what to say, or to put my thoughts into any type of cohesive post.
COVID-19 has demonstrated how woefully unprepared we are to take on the fast-approaching global threats we are about to face. The only way to face threats like climate change and world pandemics is together as one world. We have shown that we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.
Regarding the brutal death of George Floyd, a man who lost his life in the hands of the people who are supposed to be protecting him: He died lying on the ground, begging to be allowed to breathe. Not an isolated event, it was the tip of a mountain of other incidents in the United States. Driving while black. Wearing a hoodie while black. Jogging while black. Getting coffee while black. Sleeping while black. Watching TV in your own living room, while black. I vividly remember as a teenager my cousin and I being blocked in by a police cruiser at a mall in the US for ‘getting into a car while black’.
I will readily admit that my faith in humanity has been tested over the past several weeks.
However, over the past few days my faith has begun to heal as I watch younger leaders around the world rise up to stand against the tradition of what they are ‘supposed’ to do from their position of authority. They represent a rainbow of diversity spanning race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion. They are saying the right things, doing the right things, and stand with those they lead in calling for change.
The following is something I wrote as part of a funding proposal for a water safety initiative recently. I did not realise how closely the sentiment was tied to my current feelings resulting from all that is happening:
“One of the best ways to empower a community is to empower the young people of that community. Youth are the engine of change. They often face what others would consider a ‘hopeless cause’ and bring hope where there is none. By empowering young people within our communities with the knowledge and leadership skills they need, they can become champions of change.”
Young people should be supported, encouraged and educated to seize the power they have and to use it wisely, with all the strength and hope that youth has to offer. Messages like ‘Change is slow’, ‘You need patience’, ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint.’. are not for the young, and I believe such messages to be simply untrue.
Change is not slow. Change happens quickly.
Very seldom has true change manifested itself over a slow process. It happens quickly, resulting from a critical mass of support and preparation that suddenly starts to take hold. It happens when people finally plant their feet and claim the rights that are already theirs. We can say that building the conditions for change can be a long, slow, tiring and painful process. It takes many failed attempts to plant one’s feet and feeling the pain of being knocked over again and again. Then one day, you plant your feet and it holds. On that day, it is not a marathon, it is a sprint. You run forward with everything you have to take advantage of the opportunity and gain as much ground a possible.
I stand both personally and professionally with the peaceful protests around the world, with hope that we have gathered a critical mass of people who have planted their feet to push back against discrimination, bias and abuse of power and privilege.
A change is gonna come.