Before you take the streets.
What is your morning practice? What do you get up in the morning and do? Do you read, do you take your time in the shower? Is it the coffee? Can I suggest a practice for us? I would advise everyone to incorporate a Mirror Protest (#MirrorProtest). With all the frustrations we are facing in our country (USA) its very easy to let our pessimism show. It’s easy to dog someone, or share that meme that is derogatory, or express your ‘true’ feelings at the water cooler.
An important part of this #MirrorProtest is believing you have a voice and influence. Start there, make yourself believe it because you do! You matter. Your voice, your opinions, your feelings, your vote, are all relevant, but all need to be measured. If you don’t voice them, then there is no measure! While I believe there is ultimate truth, a person has to own their truth as they search for it. We live in a world where we can see what each other are thinking. So make sure you define what you believe so you are able to articulate it in your #MirrorProtest.
Scrolling Facebook will give you all the perspective you need. It is the biggest love/hate relationship in my life. Somewhere between family photos and recommendations, we have a slew of posts that fail the #MirrorProtest. We can’t expect respect when we don’t give it. We can’t justify our opinions when they are based on a fallacy. We can’t vilify people we don’t know. Somewhere between our assumptions, 240 characters, or 250-word articles we have to seek a more solid understanding. And when your posts don’t contain personal pronouns you haven’t been practising your #MirrorProtest.
It starts with the hearts of man. We have to pray for the hearts of man. But most importantly we have to act out the heart of our loving God. Any time we speak and point to a person at the problem outside of ourselves we have failed the #MirrorProtest.
At some point, we have to choose how we will respond to the injustices in our lives/world. You can try your hardest and set up as many kickstarters and gofundmes as possible but people still will not empathize with your cause. I don’t care what it is. Everyone has their own experimental path they must journey. There are levels of empathy they have yet to experience. It’s not because they don’t get it, it’s not because they don’t understand, it’s not because they hate you, they just haven’t been there yet. It’s a hopeless feeling when we feel like we aren’t reaching a particular person or group, but accept that they might not be your assignment. Every day a #MirrorProtest is necessary before you can take offence to someone else’s ignorance. So this protest must march around your response.
This was a hot topic last week, but how many of us gave money to either cause? How many of us re-posted the memes? Who did both? Who did both and posted their personal explanation as to why they gave to either cause?
Proximity is a good measure to the level of our reactions. I can rejoice over the First Steps Act just passed and have no connection to battling recidivism in my city, but I cannot be upset if the bill did not pass and also have no connection to battling recidivism in my city. If I canvas my neighbourhood with someone running for city council and don’t encourage my roommates to vote I’ve wasted my time. By no means can I repost a meme that slanders someone’s name when I’m not willing to put my face on it. Proximity is a wonderful measure of what our reactions should be.
Here are some phrases we can start with:
“I will respect everyone.”
That means ‘Yes, Ma’am’, ‘Yes, Sir’, ‘Excuse Me’, ‘Good Morning’, all before I vocalize my agenda. Acknowledging people who speak to you may seem simple, but how often do we short people trying to sell us something, people canvassing the neighbourhood, or homeless on the street. You don’t always have to give your time but you do have to acknowledge them, ‘No sir/ma’am’ works just fine.
“I will be inclusive.”
Diversity in skin colour is good and all, but let’s try to move on to diversity in thought, socioeconomic stance, culture, gender, religion, and political party. Start observing the settings you are in. Can you bring diversity? Can you invite in diversity? Do you know where to find diversity?
“I will not perpetuate bias.”
This is one of my favourite lines in my #MirrorProtest. I’ve decided to stop repeating racially charged jokes and using racist colloquialisms. If I don’t understand a phrase or its origin I do not repeat it. Can we stop laughing at people because they’re different and start learning from them?
“I will be an active observer, I will speak on injustice.”
We can be such good neighbours by just observing our surroundings. We don’t have to feel obligated to intervene in every situation. Sometimes an outsiders look and presence are enough in a tense situation. If you are compelled to speak, especially when someone makes a racist remark, engage them by asking, “What did you experience that makes you feel your comment was acceptable?”
“I won’t lose hope.”
Similar as to how this essay started, its bleak out there right now. We have to choose hope. We have to choose optimism. We have to celebrate every win.
If you have more suggestions for our #MirrorProtest please comment below or share your list online using #MirrorProtest.