Being the change

Reflections on 2020 (so far)

I realise I’ve been more than a little quiet lately. It’s a combination of things. 

You’ve probably heard of this thing called “coronavirus”. Well, yeah, it’s not fun. Especially when you have a daughter who’s shielding. Then there’s our situation which has my wife, Rachel, and I both working (more than) full time while trying to avoid ruining our children’s future. We have key worker places but, again, shielding. So no help, sadly. (I appreciate that many have it far worse than this, but that doesn’t make the above feel any less shitty.)

Then there’s Black Lives Matter – seeing the whole world react to the brutal murder of George Floyd. It’s caused me to take another look at my own biases, despair at the reaction of many white people, and look on in disgust at the ongoing treatment of black people by police. And I feel anxious about what I should be doing to both address my own biases and support black people.

So there’s coronavirus, and Black Lives Matter, but then there’s Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. And I can’t help but watch in despair at the incompetence of these egotistical men. I get that you don’t always have the political party or leader in power that you want. But even when it’s not a leader or party you voted for, you kind of hope for a base level of competence in a crisis. Sadly not. And at what horrendous cost.

All of that is to say that I’ve had little headspace for writing. (Even as an avid reader, I’ve been struggling to read nearly as much as I usually do too.) That said, I do want to get back to writing – and podcasting – and this is my first attempt to get the creative juices flowing again.

It’s easy to feel despondent as we continue to plunge through this year from hell. Truth told, it’s hard not to feel despondent much of the time. But reading an email from Franciscan Richard Rohr this week brought a real lift:

2020 has been an unprecedented year—like nothing I have seen before. I believe we are seeing humanity awaken to a new level of awareness of systemic injustice in the world, the suffering it causes, and of the role each of us play in perpetuating these systems—predominantly by those of us with privilege and power. We would do well to remember that evil can only be substantially overcome by collective good. When one part is hurt, we all share in that pain, and if one part is liberated, we all share in the joy.

This was a timely reminder that every moment in time carries within it the opportunity to reimagine the future and work towards a better future – for everyone

If the exposing of systemic injustice – and real, lasting change as a result – is an outcome from this year, then that’s some serious light breaking through into the darkness.

We have to make that happen though. We can’t be passive. As Rohr says, evil is only overcome by the collective good. We have to work together. And ‘work’ is the right word; change won’t happen by accident nor without effort.

For me, thinking about Black Lives Matter, listening and learning has been my initial posture. I’ve been reading I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi is next on my list. But I don’t want to stop there. I know listening and learning has to lead to action. I don’t know what that will look like yet, but I do know I am determined to be a part of the ‘collective good’.

It’s time for change. It’s time for an awakening. And, of course, at the end of those tough days, it’s time for gin (and a dose of gratitude in the midst of it all).

Thanks for reading,

–Sam