The room of hideous wallpaper and passive-aggressive commentary strikes again.
I hope it doesn’t blizzard tomorrow. There’s a volunteer organization to support LGBTQ advocacy that I want to be a part of and they’re having an intro meeting tomorrow that I’d like to go to. I’m scared to death to go, because it means going to a new place and meeting new people and that makes me anxious AS ALL GET OUT, but it’s something I really want to do this year. I want to be part of an active good.
I snapped a bit a week or two ago. Folks that follow me on social media might have seen it in real time. I have been feeling a low burn of helplessness and fear lately. I had a few errands to run, so I thought I would take a walk because exercise is supposed to be good for you. Even though I’m also anxious about walking alone anywhere BUT HEY MAYBE SOMETHING TERRIBLE WON’T HAPPEN THIS TIME. And wouldn’t you know it, a block from my house, I found a swastika spray painted on the sidewalk. And I just…GUH. It got to me. It got right under my skin. I came home, fired up and wondering what I should do to get that THING out of my neighborhood. I posted that I was thinking about painting over it. And while most said “DO IT!” there was also a common response of “No, don’t, just leave it. You’ll get arrested. You’ll get fined.”
And that REALLY made me mad. Something in me just snapped. I was tired of feeling scared and helpless. I was going to DO something.
BUT it made me think, “Okay, fine, let’s find out how to do this the legal way.” So I called my local police force to ask them if it was all right for me to paint over the graffiti. Their response in tone was, “Ppfff, uh, yeah you could have totally painted over that but officially I can’t say that so now that you’ve called we have to do this The Official Way.” It turns out, there is a Graffiti Unit in my city. So I called them, reported it, and now I’m going to have to keep an eye on it and follow-up. The process is longer, but it was good for me to learn about my local resources and the policies involved. It was good to know that I didn’t have to be afraid. I didn’t have to be passive either.
So I thought: What else can I be active about?
That’s when I signed up to volunteer. It’s not enough to be a passive good. All that I’ve learned from history shows me that results goes to the runner. While the major conflicts that we remember are generally between two active groups, the vast majority of the time change came to those that chose to act. For good or ill. In a race between active and apathetic, history goes to the active side. So I want to become part of a group that is acting. That is creating. That is MAKING things.
I’m not a protestor. I don’t have that kind of energy in me. But I can educate. I can communicate. I can support. I can create safe environments. And that kind of activism has its place too. (I have a whole other blog story on this idea involving a juniper stump in my yard that JUST WON’T DIE, but I’ll save that one for another day.)
So I researched local groups that focused on that kind of advocacy. And even if it freaks me out to go to a new place, with new people, and my anxiety is 100% convinced that I’ll make an idiot of myself or everyone I meet will instantly hate me (no, brain, that’s not true please stop) I hope that I can learn a lot about how I can help my community.
I encourage everyone to find a way to be active in creating the world you’d like to live in for yourself and others. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. For some, that might simply be surviving. A personal act of self-validation. For others, it might be making something. Telling a story. Helping a friend. Helping a stranger.
Maybe it’s just learning how to report graffiti.
We are not helpless. We do not need to let the paralysis of fear shape our future.
How can you be active in making your future a better place?