Sometimes it might seem that the ways of the world are so ingrained that changing them is impossible or at least highly unlikely. Things are the way they are and we just have to accept them…!? Well imagine where we’d be if everyone throughout history had thought like that. Things are much more malleable and less stable than we are lead to believe.
I wanted to write about this today after watching a video on the YouTube channel The School of Life entitled Why You Can Change the World. I quite often take the way I think about things for granted and I forget the ways I used to think and the different ways people see the world. This video reminded me of that and of the importance of knowing that positive change is very much possible.
I’ve always been passionate about justice. From a little girl making sure my two siblings and I had the same size piece of birthday cake, to debates with my uni housemates about racism and sexism to stopping eating meat 3 years ago. I don’t accept injustice just because my culture or society does. I will speak up for what I believe in and try to converse calmly (the calmly part is a work in progress) with others who are open to an exchange of opinions. Could I do more to fight it? Yes, of course I could. I could join activist groups, protest, sign petitions (I do sometimes). For now, I’m writing this blog post.
So without really realising it, I have obviously always had the belief that things could and should get better. Where did that come from? My parents? My education? I’m not exactly sure, but I think it’s important that everyone has that hopefulness for a better world. We don’t have to look too far back in history to see huge changes which would have been unthinkable for the generation which preceded them- ending apartheid, votes for women, gay marriage.
History is not only a matter of the past but also the present. Every decision we make today, every conversation, is determining history. I remember wondering as a teenager why the world is how it is and never really finding an answer. Of course now I understand that it is because the world we live in was never destined to be as it is now, it is arbitrary. It could have been very, very different. It could still be very, very different but in order for that to happen, people need to believe that it can change.
I know at present it’s not easy to stay optimistic about the future of humanity, never mind the world as a whole – yes, there are plants and animals too who are also living on this beautiful, fragile planet. But the first and most important step is to NOT accept things as they are just because they have been that way for X amount of time. We live in an age of incredible knowledge, let’s use it for the better. Let’s stand up for what we know is right and not just easy.
The internet is an incredible thing and, as with everything, can be used for positive or negative ends. Let’s focus on the positive – we can now join together in numbers never before possible to raise awareness and show our support for certain causes like ending domestic violence or the refugee crisis or animal cruelty. It also gives us access to ways of thinking that we may never have come across in our day to day lives. What a wonderful opportunity for personal growth as well as positive change in society.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy or straight-forward. I am very lucky in that the only way injustice affects my life is people complaining that my diet is difficult to accommodate or trying to ‘educate’ me on why they think I must be protein deficient. Or my boyfriend calling me annoying because I made a comment about the misogyny in the series we are watching. Or an awkward moment in a social situation where I let someone know that I consider something to be unacceptable. Or rare occasions of having to deal with sexist behaviour towards me. These seem almost ridiculous when compared to the injustice millions of people (and animals) suffer every single day.
I am incredibly fortunate to be safe, healthy, educated, which means there is all the more reason for me to be aware of the injustices others suffer and have open conversations about it. The only people who will lose out in a more equal and fair world are those who abuse power. Of course there are those who are privileged and therefore powerful (whether they realise it or not) and would never dream of abusing that power, but that’s not enough. We should use it to help those who don’t have it. The first step is to NOT accept things the way they are, the second is to let people know what is unacceptable and why.
If you have made it to the end of this blog post, thank you so much. I realise this was quite philosophical, political even, but there will be a few of these between the lifestyle stuff, after all, everyone should be entitled to live a happy, healthy life.