Disruption is everywhere - globally, domestically, externally, internally – and we feel the effects of a changing ecological, societal landscape.
Many of us feel this disruption keenly as we are aware that it is the result of wider conflicts that are impacting us at every turn. Racial division, sexual violence, gender discrimination, economic disparities, and the general incivility that has become our new normal, keep us on an endless loop of disheartening news cycles. We are left feeling discouraged and helpless. In the timeless words of singer Marvin Gaye, it’s enough to “make you wanna holla and throw up both (of your) hands.”
It is easy to feel disconnected and powerless in these times, but there is a panacea to the feelings of resignation that we are all surely experiencing. The cure? Become a disruptor to the disruptive! We all have the capability to disrupt the negativity that surrounds us by becoming the counterforce necessary to turn the tide of our human co-existence. To do this, it necessitates a few key things to push forward:
Work toward equity, justice and peace in a space that pushes you to confront your privilege. If you identify as male, work toward gender justice. If you are a not a person of color, find ways to work toward racial equity. The key is to not do these things to merely feel better, but to do what is required to dismantle social and systemic inequalities. This requires more than posting our dismay on social media, or expressing concern. This requires real action and connection with people living on the margins of society and pushing ourselves to do something that makes a tangible impact. Educate yourself on the challenges that people are facing on a daily basis and resolve to help to alleviate those challenges through sustained, purposeful action. Our collective action leads to our collective liberation.
Be mindful of what you consume and share. It is hard to disconnect ourselves from the never-ending news cycle, but allowing ourselves to be constantly barraged by stories that stoke our deepest fears is unhelpful. We become more cynical and anxious and become bogged down with hopelessness. Yes, it is important that we remain informed, vigilant citizens, but it is not necessary to consume every story, retweet every offensive thing said, or converse about our theories and opinions with everyone who will listen. Do your best to find consistent credible news sources and limit your time on social media. Create pockets of peace and spaciousness for yourself and others around you by checking-in with people about anything other than today’s news. We need respite in turbulent times, and being intentional about creating a mental/emotional sanctuary is essential to our longevity in our work toward a more just, peaceful, equitable world.
Put something on the line. Becoming a disruptor requires each of us to risk something, to get comfortable being uncomfortable. We cannot disrupt anything by continuing to be silent about injustice. Disrupting means not laughing at inappropriate jokes. It means speaking up when we or other people are mistreated. It means giving critical resources to people and organizations that are systematically disenfranchised. It means putting some “skin in the game.” Change does not happen from just hoping that things get better. Change happens when we choose and take action to make it happen. When we allow ourselves to become radical instruments of love and compassion, we create a different reality for ourselves and others. That, however, does not happen without risk, and risk is scary. None of us want to face the uncertainty that is inherent to risk. It is counter-cultural for us to place ourselves on the line on behalf of others in a society that is so clearly self-absorbed. We must divest ourselves from the status quo and operate outside the prescribed boundaries built to keep us “in our places.” Being safe, passive, and comfortable has never been part of the recipe for transformation.
Turbulent times often create waves of stress, anxiety and uncertainty. What often gets lost in the jumble is the deep, internal human yearnings for connection, belonging, peace and justice. We all need to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. When we resolve to become the change we wish to see in the world, we become like a stone thrown into a pond-creating ripples that stretch beyond the point of impact.