We have been through a lot. Some of us have lost family members and friends to Covid. Some have lost family members and friends to other causes. We have lost jobs, careers, ways of life, routines, traditions, feelings of trust and safely, feelings that things are OK. Every single person will be forever changed by this period of time.
We have not had the time required to recover, to grieve. Many of us are still discombobulated, not sure of which way us up, much less forward. The only way humanity is going to move past this period wholeheartedly into a new period is through vulnerability.
The very structures of society are shaking and will not be the same tomorrow as they were yesterday. We all need to challenge ourselves to support one another in the way THEY NEED to be supported, rather than the way we would like to be supported. That old rule from kindergarten, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” IS NO LONGER GOOD ENOUGH. We all have to listen better. Learn about what others need and, if you have the capacity, give it to them, or find another way to help them get what they need.
All of this MUST START with those who are in positions of power. White people need to demand more of themselves before asking for any consideration from BIPOC. Men must look to themselves before asking women to accommodate. Upper- and upper-middle class folks need to provide for the working- and lower-class. And perhaps more importantly, those who command institutional power through their position or influence within an organization must harness that power and direct it to help those out of power. BECAUSE WE CAN! We are able, and it must be done. If you are in one or more of these positions, you used to have the choice about whether or not you chose to care about others. Statistics say, you probably chose not to. Or, if you did donate to charities or something like that, you did so only to the extent that you didn’t notice the cost, financially or otherwise. This has to change.
Yes, I’m saying you should get uncomfortable. You should get vulnerable. It is not going to be good enough to simply toss crumbs to those less fortunate. You need to challenge yourself to do more.
The biggest gift you can give another person is the belief in their good faith. That is how we will be emerging from this distrustful, unsafe condition we are all in. And those in more vulnerable positions, those who are poor, or houseless, those who have undergone abuse or trauma, those who are undereducated or underemployed cannot be expected to open themselves up first. It is up to the rest of us to go first!
So take the first step. Find someone you wouldn’t normally talk to, assume their best intentions and listen to their story. Really be present. Offer help, if needed. Or just be a friend. Don’t assume you have nothing to get out of the time you spend, either. Chances are you will learn something from hearing the perspective of someone less fortunate, if you allow yourself to do so.