I know that the urge and need to help may exceed your ability to help right now, and you may see some ablest comments that make you feel like you are not enough. Help to your ability. There are plenty of folks who can and will physically protest, and really, many do understand that there are folks who probably shouldn’t do that. It can be dangerous, you may need to move quickly, the noises are loud, and there are lots of people on the front lines. Covid 19 is still here, and immune suppressed people definitely shouldn’t be out in groups. I see you and I get that.
Many people will be able to help by donating money. If you can, that is awesome! We also know that a lot of people don’t have jobs right now. I personally do not have a job right now or any source of income. When I did have income, I gave it away. I have also given away all of my savings. In money, I simply have none left to give. I understand if you don’t either. You and I both know that if we had it, we would give it, so we can find other ways to help.
If you have access to some free downloads, there are lots of lists of books that you can read, if reading is your jam. This is a very personal, less visible way to help, but probably the most helpful overall because it changes and educates you as a person. Never underestimate that. It is important. Sharing things that are helpful on social media is also a great way to help, some folks call some of that “armchair activism”, but I know that can be frustrating for people who can’t physically do things. The fact that you are researching, thinking about, and critically assessing things yourself is also helpful.
Sometimes we have disabilities and illnesses that are invisible. I have clinical depression, and for me that means that if I am going through a depressive time, I have both good and bad days. There are many invisible illnesses and disabilities that also make it so that people have “good and bad days”. If you have never heard of “Spoon Theory”, google that. It is a very helpful. I understand not having enough spoons. In order for me to have nearly endless spoons, I have to be not depressed for a long period of time. I have been in a deep depression for over 2 years, and my spoons are very limited. Today I slept til 5 pm and cried multiple times. Today I didn’t have enough spoons for much of anything. I felt guilty about that. I can’t tell you not to feel guilty about that, because I don’t know how to tell myself not to feel guilty. I’ll just say “I understand you, and I empathize with you.”
Do what you can. I’m doing what I can. None of us will ever feel like “enough”. I don’t know that it’s humanly possible, but we can all contribute something.
Social media reflects who we are, and often times I can tell “who I am” at any point in time by what people ask me when we’re in person. In some cases, I can even tell WHEN they started following me online. People are onions, peeling in layers, each revealing a new part. Right now I’m the “homeless center lady”, but I’ve been other people, and I bet so have you.
I’ve been the “Lives in Los Angeles girl”. Taking pictures of crazy/funny stuff. Talking about things that I found amusing on the West Coast through the eyes of a Southerner. Writing about my job on King of the Hill.
I’ve been the “Hemp Necklace lady”. I sewed patchwork dresses and made hemp jewelry. I drew mandalas. I had an Etsy store.
I’ve been the “tomato/horticulture lady”. When I was going to NC State for horticulture, people often knew me as the plant person. I was working on some pretty cool things with heirloom tomatoes and had a little garden, access to a very big greenhouse, and plants were what I wrote about.
I’ve been the “Hawaii Girl”, taking beautiful pictures of my adventures working in a tropical botanical garden, learning a new culture, and living on an island.
I’ve been the “new dog lady”. There was a time when having a dog was very new for me, and I wrote about him pretty often. I dated someone who had 2 dogs, so there were plenty of photos and funny stories.
I’ve been the “soap-making lady”, trying out new techniques, new smells, taking pictures of freshly cut soap. I vended at farmer’s markets and festivals. I grew things that I then made into soap.
I’ve been the “chicken lady”. I got some chicken girls, hatched baby chickens, took pictures of cool, colorful eggs, and talked to people about chicken diseases, how to care for babies, and what kinds of things they like to eat (almost everything).
I’ve been the “bought a new house person”, and took everyone on a journey of buying a home, painting it, decorating it, and settling into it. I then became “Opening a new restaurant person”, and helped open a restaurant from scratch. These journeys happened back to back.
I’ve been “Angry Activist Person”, charged, political, shaking my fist and screaming from the rafters an whoever would listen. I’ve had someone who hadn’t met me in real life before open up their introduction with “Don’t start yelling at me about feminism and politics”. I laughed about it and told them that I also do other things in real life.
Now I’m “Homelessness Lady”, and while that sounds pretty scary to people when you say it out loud, it’s actually a pretty amazing place to be. I still grow tomatoes. I still have chickens. I still make soap. I still shake my fist for justice.
You can be and have been many things. You are a multi-layered person. We all are. As I told someone on Friday, “You are all of these people. Everything you need lives inside of you right now”. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, you’re not a “brand”, you are a soul.
Above is the most recent selfie I have, because I’m an actual human being, and so are you.
I’ve entered a phase of exhaustion I’m calling “Internet Argument Fatigue”. It’s a form of exhaustion marked by seeing the cruelest, angriest, nastiest comments on social media, and realizing that responding to them no longer matters- what’s the point?
In my “real life”, I see and interact with lots of people. My in person interactions are filled with some of the kindest, most generous, genuine folks I could ever be blessed with knowing. Every once in a while I run across a true epic level douche, but I don’t really have to know that person, and their face is noted so that I can remember to avoid them wherever I go. Seems simple enough. I know a lot of truly descent people. I figure most people must be this way.
Then I go online, and within seconds I’m like “WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM?” For every descent comment, there is it’s equally heartless, seething with hate, completely lacking in all compassion, counterpart. It floors me. Are there really that many people in the world who lack all forms of empathy entirely? If any comments section is an indication, then at least 50% of everyone in our country is actually a complete sociopath, or at least, the book of faces would lead us to believe.
I get the impression that a good portion of human beings don’t believe that other human beings actually exist. Have you ever had a descent discussion with anyone who started a sentence with “You must be the biggest idiot I’ve ever seen?”- I haven’t. I’m also 110% certain that I am, in fact NOT the biggest idiot that anyone has ever seen; it’s a statistical impossibility at this point. For all practical purposes, if I was the biggest idiot that anyone had ever seen, I wouldn’t even be alive today. That’s not the actual point, though. The point is that when someone who you don’t know starts a sentence like that, they’ve already negated your humanity. They’re literally saying “I don’t believe that you’re a human being like me. You are something less. You don’t actually exist.”
Where is this feeling coming from? I guess the straw that broke the camel’s back is the sudden surge in postings that the Parkland, Fl. kids are paid actors, when they are actually real students. This was followed by several of those poor kids and their families receiving death threats. That was followed by tons of people online saying “Those death threats didn’t come from ANYONE in the NRA (1 in 77 Americans belong to the NRA). We’re all completely responsible, good, completely sane, completely sober, God-fearing people who would never do anything like that!” Comment after comment after comment.
I’m here to tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that being 100% sure that no one in a group as large as the NRA would have ever sent a death threat to these teenagers, is statistically improbable, if not impossible. That is a HUGE group of people, and there’s just no way that every single one is exactly the same as the next. So, the next natural thing people would say is “Cross reference it, and give us a list of all of the people in the NRA who did this.” Well, we all know that is also impossible, because people have many online personas, but further more, it doesn’t matter.
It won’t matter. Even if there were a list of all of the people who were, all of the people who weren’t, all of the people who were bots instead of people, and a list of people from other countries, it still won’t matter, because no one would listen. They would declare it to be “made up”, a “smear campaign”, “fake news”, and furthermore, they would probably state that none of these people truly exist and that they, the human beings themselves, are made up. That’s why none of it matters.
The truth of the matter is that the same people who will swear up and down that none of the 1 in 77 Americans belonging to the NRA would ever dream of doing any such thing, are the same people who will declare that all left-leaning people are Libtards, Snowflakes, and Communists. They’ll declare them to all “be on welfare” or “elitists”. Then they’ll claim that Liberals made it all up to “make them look bad”.
Who are these people who live in this “black and white” view of the world? Do they really think this way? None of the “all” statements in the previous paragraph are true. Again, it’s statistically impossible for any of that to be true. The children speaking out are REAL, ACTUAL humans. The person you just called “a total idiot” online is actually a real person, who I can nearly promise, you wouldn’t call a “total idiot” in real life. Where did all the empathy go? Do you really feel like you’re the only person who exists in the world and everyone else is just some kind of figment of your imagination?
I’m exhausted by the lack of empathy and mindfulness of people. I’m tired of having thought out explanations being retorted with insults that are absolutely abusive. If people really, truly want an aggressive, dog-eat-dog, every person for themselves, don’t care about anyone or anything else world- well you guys can have that. It sounds miserable, unhappy, stressful and excessively cruel. I’d go out on a limb and say that many of the folks who proclaim their love for a world like that would actually fare poorly in it.
I can’t use my energy to talk to a brick, smash my head against a wall or piss into the wind. My real, daily life and the people in it are kind, generous people who are truly trying to make a concrete difference in the lives of others. They’re doing for the greater good of all humans. Most of them are left-leaning, and none of them have the energy to make up conspiracy theories, be elitist, fight tooth and nail for the right to breath, or any such extremist nonsense that projected online personas would have us all believe. I know a LOT of people, and here is real life, no one behaves this way.
I am a human being. I think constantly. I think at least as much as you do, I promise. I do constantly. I do a good deal of what you do, I promise. I work in a church, but I’m not going to preach to you. I also work in a gay bar, but I’m not gay. I don’t have to be one thing or another- for some reason my life comes together seamlessly, without being a stereotype of some sort. I bet yours does too. One day someone is going to try to say that I’m not a human, and that I didn’t exist. They’re going to try to say that I was “made up”. I’m glad I have over a decade of assorted writing, assorted social media and have had the pleasure of knowing over 1,500 folks that I can keep in touch with to prove to the world that I did, in fact, exist, and that I was not the “biggest idiot they ever met”.