How to change the world
This past week has been a flurry of highs and lows.
Starting with the highs:
- Protests have catalyzed the beginning of much-needed police accountability and restricting use of force, police presence has reduced and defunded, and confederate statues are being removed.
- Cheap steroid cuts death rates significantly for severely ill COVID-19 patients.
- The Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBT protections against job discrimination.
And the lows:
- Trump to restart his rallies in Tula, Oklahoma on the date African Americans celebrate the end of slavery. Tulsa is where one of the worst massacres of Black people occurred in US history.
- WWI killed 116,516 Americans. As of yesterday, COVID-19 has killed 116,963 Americans. Cities are shuttering businesses again because of the spike in COVID-19 cases.
- The Trump administration announced their removal of transgender rights in the healthcare. Transgender people will be treated based on their birth gender and can be refused services.
Truth is, media has focused primarily on the grim news — the headlines that anger and upset us. Even while reading the “good” news, it’s too easy to dissect and find the things that aren’t going right.
In the case of protesting, we are putting countless lives at risk during a pandemic to fight for civil liberties.
In the case of steroid use against COVID-19, this medication is still in trial and unavailable to patients struggling to stay alive.
And in the case of LGBTQ+ rights, a third of the justices voted against protecting LGBT workers.
Social media plays into this harrowing narrative by prioritizing emotional content that evokes fear and outrage. And when we spend hours scrolling through what seems like the world ending (which is called doom-scrolling), we feel informed, but also unmotivated, hopeless, and exhausted.
If we want to change the world, what do we do?
The first thing is to be brutally honest with ourselves on what we are spending our time doing.
We all have 24 hours in a day. Even celebrities like Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Beyonce cannot buy more time with the wealth they have accumulated. The only difference is in the choices that we make. When we spend hours scrolling through our newsfeed, we lose time to digest and to act on what we take in.
Especially for traumatic news, not giving ourselves the space to process what we read/watch/listen makes us prisoners to media. We become hypersensitive and reactive to the world without understanding what’s causing us to behave this way.
How might we not only allocate time to consuming news, but allocate time to digest, reflect, and take action. (I track my activities through Toggl throughout the day.)
The second thing is to focus on positive messages and outcomes when amplifying news or speaking out.
Two explanations for this:
- We are what we spend our time on. If we focus on anger and upset, that is how we show in our lives. If we want more love and kindness in the world, we must magnify messages that exude heart and compassion. And when our heart grows bigger, we have more empathy to understand those we once struggled with.
- We guide others to where we want them to go. When we highlight police officers supporting their community, politicians creating legislation to improve equity, or influencers using their platforms for social justice, we’ve established a destination we want these individuals to arrive at.
While protests and activism are great at garnering attention, without a clear end goal of what we want to accomplish together, it is difficult to make change happen. By leading with example, showing not telling, we leverage positive (proactive) reinforcements to enact change that people want to hear vs. negative (reactive) reinforcements that people struggle to open up and accept.
By becoming more accountable with our time and the message we put out, we can become true stewards of change.
Along with a bit of weekly mindfulness, I send out my favorite things I discover each week on my email newsletter at Mindful Moments.
Thanks for reading! Until next time.