All of this complaining about what we don’t want in our presidential candidates is not creating one iota of effort toward what we do want – inclusive policies and spaces for all (people of color, who are LGBTQ, with disabilities, with mental illnesses, living in poverty, veterans, immigrants, etc.). We cannot sit around hoping a President and Congress of any political party are going to create the world we desire. We have to do it in our own neighborhoods and communities and cities. We have to envision and bring to life spaces where every voice is welcome at the table and where neighbors support one another in times of joy and times of hardness. We have to do more than imagine what is possible, we have to start doing the hard work of making it possible so that the people around us who are lost in fear can imagine it, too.
Tearing down other people – whether they support Trump, Hilary, Bernie or Jill – is only furthering the violence that sustains patriarchy, greed, and exclusion in our country. I am choosing a different way. I seek to build individuals up, no matter what they believe, because tearing people down will never change their minds. I seek to focus on the complexity of our humanness rather than make others one dimensional based on one belief they hold or one action they’ve taken. I seek to understand and find ways to include rather than judge, shame, blame, and exclude.
The only way the world will change is if we create the world we desire rather than sit on our asses arguing while waiting for national level politicians to do it. Thousands of self empowerment coaches are not going to change it or it would have already changed. Hundreds of thought leaders are not going to change it or it would have already changed. The only way the world will change is if those of us who envision something else get out into the world and take action to impact policy at local levels and go out to improve the lives of the marginalized in practical ways so that they know they matter now rather than hoping they’ll know they matter later. Talking about supporting marginalized communities online is all good, but many of them don’t have access or interest in the online world. What they know are the people who will look them in the eye when walking downtown and will have a conversation with them if they approach and will volunteer to provide much needed services like meal delivery. Our neighbors will be touched far more deeply by our reaching out to build relationships than if they happen upon our latest blog post that says we care about their story from a distance.
The past three years are actually the longest I’ve gone since my first year of college without volunteering for my local community. I had some deep internal healing to do. But now, no matter what I choose to do for a business, I know that I also need to volunteer on the front lines in my local community so that I can impact lives of marginalized people here and now. I have to go beyond my privileged bubble and get in the trenches. I will also seek ways to experiment with radically inclusive spaces for community members to meet and interact, spaces where someone homeless with a mental illness has as much of a voice as the highest level professional in the room as long as they are respectful. Listening spaces. Spaces for creative interaction. Spaces where the fullness of our humanity can be honored rather than excluded. This is the only way others will be able to see and believe that these kinds of spaces are possible and good for all of us.