This year has started in roaring fashion. I feel as if I’d just blinked and opened my eyes to the top of the roller coaster. Granted there is A LOT left in store for 2020 but January has me peering over in fear of the dips, turns and curves of the rest of the ride.
I decided at the end of 2019 to take a much-needed self-care/birthday trip during January, knowing that all plans would be last minute. I have been suffering and made aware of my seasonal depression since 2012 but it has always seemed to catch me by surprise come February. I decided to fight the slump this year.
Truthfully, this year is about interventions to me. With the state of our earth, our people, my country, it has become increasingly clear that there needs to be a sense of urgency for hope. We need to change the very ‘regular’ way we live our lives immediately. Our world is groaning out for us to do so and we are groaning out ourselves. So why wait? Why not call out every microaggression you hear, every bit of ignorance that is embraced, and every person you see lost. The time is now.
This trip bellowed urgency.
I didn’t truly know what to expect on this voyage, just that from the beginning my time clock was running short on my destinations. Travel for me has come by way of where my friends are. Travel over the last decade has not been about weekend get-a-ways or hotels, but the people I love that I need to see and fellowship with. These are (preferably) week-long trips of engaging in life with my loved ones. What started with my mother in Armenia, my roommates in Denmark, and WNBA vacations and has morphed into a 2018 [new] baby tour, cultural immersion, and societal prospecting analysis. Though planes are not my favourite, the people and places are.
Hence, Hawaii and Australia not being flight schedules I ever looked to embrace. But as I stated my loved ones have been living respectively here for four years and I had yet to make a trip, and their time is starting to wind down. I could write an essay as to why I never considered visiting and how much I procrastinated in booking this ticket to do so, and in retrospect, most of that book would be excuses.
My faithfulness in going was quickly honoured as I picked up an airline voucher for staying an extra night in LA after my first flight. That voucher has already paid for a few more peaks on the roller coaster this year. I planned a risky but very beneficial trip and it was just day one. Landing in Honolulu was a relief but also insight to the fact that I could never live there. I appreciated my friend immediately, her sacrifice to our county serving in the military, and living on this (very) remote island. Flying 5 hours is one thing but landing in a place where you can see all sides of the land is another. I was grateful to be able to visit. She is a fantastic host and exemplary citizen of the state.
Pearl Harbor and the USS Missouri was the highlight of my time. Relearning the history of US involvement in WWII was chilling as so many of the same political ideals are back in the forefront, not even 100 years later. As with any museum, it’s hard to see the amount of information that is not digested by its visitors. This was no different, the urgency for education and application was like trying to resolve a fever blister on your top lip a week away from Valentine’s, but it was missed even in our modern-day political climate.
Melbourne held its own lessons. The first night I struggled to recover from the flight with a migraine and managed to stay awake long enough to get a good night’s rest. After spending the day out on the second day we grabbed a nice dinner and took the tram home. As we were switching stations we noticed an altercation. We could see someone getting jumped by a gang of people. Rasmus immediately chased after the gang (of CHILDREN) as I ran over to see a homeless woman in complete disarray. It literally still breaks my heart to think that CHILDREN had nothing better to do than beat a homeless person. Luckily the incident was caught on camera and the police were right around the corner by the time Rasmus confronted the kids. After a long evening giving statements to the police we headed home.
This Black History Month can we agree on these:
- There is a greater urgency for unity than we have ever faced. The gap is widening from experience and education. While the youth are an easy scapegoat example for this, it has become even easier for us to live our isolated lives from socioeconomic diversity, demographic diversity, and especially cultural diversity. You are unified, but only to yourself and your interests. Our shared experiences are more limited than ever before and so are our shared interests. The need to educate by experience is a hidden treasure, a privilege, that my economic status granted me. Accessibility is just as far out of reach from those that need its benefits as it has ever been. And our cocoons of comfort continue to trample our desire for new learned experiences.
- The bystander theory needs to be enacted. Those minors we saw won’t be persecuted for a crime, but they would not have had to answer for their actions if it wasn’t for Rasmus. We can harp and complain about the number of homeless people until the end of time, but if we do not give them a voice, stand for them in front of authorities nothing will change. We weren’t the only people at the tram station that night, but we were the only ones that acted. Even when the authorities arrived they questioned the victim from a distance….with gloves on….for 45 minutes until paramedics arrived. Rasmus brought her some water and napkins for her bloody nose. How often can we speak up, call out dehumanization, call out microaggressions, and speak up for those who are targeted and attacked? While we were giving statements we noticed another group of kids handing out water, sandwiches and snacks to the homeless people at the station. My prayer is the same, may there be two of those children for everyone that represents a gang.
- Your actions matter. Many people don’t know the name Peter Norman, but they know the picture. Last year, I was able to hear John Carlos share Peter’s story and what his life was like after that ‘68 Olympics. When Tommie and John asked Peter if he would ‘stand’ with them in protest, they actually asked if he would wear the UN Human Rights patch on his jacket. They didn’t give him a rundown of the Black Panther Party or ask if he loved black people, they asked if he believed that all humans should be granted the same rights. Again, as a country we find ourselves struggling to insure our own citizen’s human rights. Peter was ostracized just as much as Tommie and John for this decision but few tell his story. He acted rightly and justly and did not have to put in much thought to whether wearing the patch was politically correct. He was an active bystander, now immortalized. That was just one action in a line of many others in his life. Your actions matter. Where you spend your money, what you buy, what you decide to read, what you say, can all be used to promote unity, peace, health, and provision to ALL people, you just need to decide to do it.
I’m not sure where all this information is supposed to go from my experiences, but I will continue to share the stories, the humanity. I will continue to go where the good Lord calls me to go, and I will continue to pray and be a good steward of the time, resources, and people God places me in front of. For all the urgency of today, there is a thirst of hope, love, and assurance that we won’t be in hell or WWIII tomorrow. For me, it is good that spurns more good actions, not the bad that causes us to act good. For me, it is hope in a God who has already won the final battle against evil. I operate in His domain, under His authority, and within the full assurance of His tangible love that continues to provide for us (you’re included because you know me). May we continue to seek out the fullness of who He is with our limited minds.
“I don’t have to worry about the days ahead,
all I have to do is live right
and believe in what He says.
I can call Him in the morning
I can call Him in the middle of the night.
And when I call Him he’ll make everything alright
It does not matter how big the problem may be,
Jesus promised he’ll take care of me.”