My monthly pandemic ponderings continue. This month, like many of you, COVID-19 is not top of mind. Life and death is.
I missed #BlackoutTuesday, which conjured up some frustration with a dollop of FOMO. How could I miss it? Why was I so focused on work that day? Am I a bad person? Will my followers judge me? Will people think I don’t care?
There’s a thread that often tugs at me in times of collective tragedy: Why weren’t we focused on this before? Why does it take such an extreme tragedy to make everyone realize that [insert issue] is a real problem? How far is too far and what is far enough to make us say enough is enough?
Perhaps the most critical question is how long will this passion for this particular issue last? The answer likely lies somewhere between until the next great collective tragedy and until we burn out and feel we need to turn to something less heavy.
Whether you believe the intensity of such moments is self-created or media-induced, this is a trap we need to avoid for all the issues or causes each of us is particularly stirred by, be that systemic racism or gender inequality, curing cancer or preventing AIDS, providing support to abused women or rescuing neglected animals, saving the planet or conserving the ocean.
There’s no shortage of causes, passions and needs around the world. No one person is expected to shoulder all of it all the time. But let’s stick with something longer than we “are obsessed” with a Netflix show. If causes are only binged over a week or two they don’t have staying power; make a cause more like Law and Order SVU.
Commitment is key.
Don’t tune out the news because it’s too depressing. Find your preferred medium and messenger and make that commitment.
Don’t totally abandon Facebook or Twitter because it’s too toxic. Set some screen time rules for yourself and make that commitment.
Don’t stop talking about these issues because you fear others may not want to hang out with you. Find friends who will listen and make that commitment.
Don’t stop holding companies accountable for their actions. Publicly support the brands you believe in and voice concerns for those that compromise. Make that commitment.
Don’t get cynical about the government. Plan to vote, start organizing or run for office yourself. Make that commitment.
If we stay focused on what’s important it won’t matter as much if we miss the next hashtag day or can’t make it to a protest. With solidarity comes promise, but with consistency comes power. Let’s step into that power together while upholding our commitments individually.