January 10, 2014; She’s Back
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Yesterday, I was strolling down 14th street, looking for a cafe to sit with my new book, my journal, and high quality ballpoint pens, and I saw the huge crowd of protestors forming in Union Square.
I walked up to the edge and looked on. There was a huge crowd formed in the middle, with protest leader leading everyone in chants. There was a crowd marching around the park saying “No justice, No peace.” People were wearing stickers that said, “I am Trayvon.” Women were marching, saying, “Trayvon matters. Our children matter.” It was so moving to watch.
I was really drawn to the silent protest — a small group of about ten people holding hands in a circle around words in chalk. The circle wasn’t quite big enough to even close up. So, it was more of a semicircle. I stood there for about 30 minutes just watching the group in silent protest. More and more people gathered around the circle, not stepping into it. Taking pictures, tagging on instagram.
I was just outside of the circle, afraid to step inside it. Afraid of those two moments when people might look at me when I put my hands down and join the circle. Afraid to commit for minutes or hours of standing there.
I stood behind them and watched and felt their energy of respect and love for Trayvon and for changing the prejudice and failed systems of this country. Feeling a desire to join but still that fear to take a stand too.
People began shifting around and I find myself now just on the edge of this semicircle, still just holding onto my bag. And it hit me how afraid I am to speak up for anything, and to take a stand even for something I believe in. Afraid to have a truth, and to speak it, or stand for it.
It’s like being in a very, very cold ocean. Those first few moments of diving in would be so cold, and that’s what stops us most of the time from diving in to anything.
And so I finally dived in and put my bag now and reached out and held the hand of the woman beside me. Such a small effort is all it takes. And so I stood with the group for the next couple hours, saying nothing, holding hands with interchanging people who would go in and out of the circle.
The sun was hot. I was afraid of a sunburn. I realized everyone else here was probably hot too, and probably wasn’t wearing sunscreen either. We’d be ok.
Becoming one of the silent protestors really showed me that everyone is stepping out and taking a chance any time you do anything for the world to see. No one knows who will take notice, what will work, if people will understand the intention behind the action, if anyone will be moved to action, if we will be ridiculed.
But if you just hide behind everyone else who is speaking up and speaking out, that’s one way to know for sure that you will not be a part of anything changing for the better.
On Saturday night, I watched the movie Taken, with Liam Neeson. I didn’t mean to watch it. After work, I got back to my cousin’s apartment, where I’ve been staying, and she was watching it. And I was immediately drawn in to this story that paints a very real picture of the world of sex trafficking.
In the film, Liam’s 19-year-old daughter goes on a trip to Paris and within an hour of getting there, she and her best friend are captured by sex traffickers.
The reality of how many women - of all ages, and many of them Americans - are getting captured into sex trafficking really hit home. That deep-in-the-stomach-sickly-feeling home.
There’s always something to care about, or a cause to fight for. And a lot of it, even though I know it is bad or important, doesn’t really push me into action. It doesn’t stir me with anger. I guess I, like many of us, am just a bit desensitized to all the horrible things that are going on in the world.
But not just that. I am also too busy getting caught up in scrutinizing my own actions or thoughts - searching for wrongdoing and beating myself up over it.
Sounds FUN, right?!
While I was watching Liam Neeson go from place to place, searching for his daughter, finding young women drugged up or beaten and raped and dead, and then fighting against guy after guy that came after him, it also sunk it that there are people out there doing really, really, really bad, inhumane, sick things out there.
Helloooo! Duhhhh! I know. But it also hit me that — we are the good guys. I am so, so hard on myself way too much of the time. I think I should be doing more, achieving more, all of that. I say one wrong thing and I can mull in guilt for hours. I sometimes lose sleep worrying over if the way I said something made someone mad at me, and is life as I know it now over.
What a waste of time! Just the reality of how many people out there are fighting hard for evil and doing the most cruel, inhumane things, made it seem so silly that I actually spend time beating myself up internally over fears and worries.
I am fighting the good fight over here. Trying to make myself into a better person, down to the core, and looking at my own inner demons right in the eye. And on top of that, trying to become an autonomous part of society that contributes in my own unique ways.
We’re the good guys. We can be nicer to ourselves and let ourselves off the hook. And when I start to take all that energy off of seeing myself in a negative light, I actually have the energy to care about the world around me, to get inspired to find some way I can actually help fight the good fight.