I ranted recently on Instagram and other places about the things going on in the world and, specifically, addressing the Israel-Palestine struggle. I keep reflecting that A LOT is going on right now. Looking at a few different “conflict trackers” that assess worldwide conflict, there are over 27 countries experiencing conflict with well over 100 armed conflicts worldwide.
That is a lot of violence, death, and instability.
But here’s the thing: our world is marked by diversity and complexity, and the struggle against oppression takes many forms. As advocates for justice and equality, we must recognize the interconnected nature of various oppressions and work towards addressing them collectively. The sheer breadth of issues can be overwhelming. So, we must act with thoughtful consideration and strategic action. I will cover four ideas that can guide us in navigating the intricate web of oppressions and contribute to fostering a more inclusive and equitable world.
Talk openly about your values
We don’t talk about the things that are important to us. We don’t talk about controversial things that affect our daily lives. Politics, sex, etc, are all taboo topics. But those things are intricately tied to our values. Those things are intricately tied to our everyday lives.
So, we must engage in open conversations about our values. This involves introspection and a willingness to articulate what matters most to us. We create a foundation for collaboration and understanding by openly discussing our values. It’s essential to recognize that while individual experiences may differ, common threads often bind us together. For example, the fight against racial injustice may intersect with the struggle for gender equality. An open dialogue helps us find these intersections and build alliances that collectively address multiple forms of oppression. This will help us create ripples to change and make a world based on racial and gender justice.
Listen with an open heart when others share theirs with you
Listening is a fundamental aspect of fostering empathy and understanding. (Do you remember when I did 30 days of listening over six years ago? This is why!) Listening attentively when others share theirs is equally vital as we talk about our values. Recognizing the diverse perspectives within our communities helps us appreciate the nuanced nature of oppression. Sometimes, acknowledging that we don’t have firsthand experiences with certain forms of oppression is crucial. An open heart and mind pave the way for solidarity and the recognition that the fight against oppression is a shared endeavor.
Hold elected officials accountable to your values and their promises
Our values should not remain confined to personal reflections and conversations. Our values and shouts for change must include more than just the social sphere (i.e., ranting on Instagram). They must extend to the political realm. Elected officials play a significant role in shaping policies that either perpetuate or dismantle oppressive systems. Holding these officials accountable involves voting with our values and actively engaging in the democratic process. It means reminding elected representatives of their promises and advocating for policies that reflect our commitment to justice and equality. By doing so, we contribute to creating a legislative framework that addresses various forms of oppression. Our ripples to change get bigger and stronger.
Align yourself with power-building organizations that share your values to amplify your voice
Individual efforts are essential, but collective action is even more potent. Aligning ourselves with power-building organizations that share our values amplifies our impact. These organizations often have the resources and infrastructure to effect systemic change. By joining forces with like-minded groups, we can contribute to movements that address multiple oppressions simultaneously. Whether supporting grassroots initiatives or collaborating with established advocacy groups, collective action enhances our ability to create lasting change. When we align with power-building organizations and hold our elected officials accountable… when we engage in strategic action… our ripples become unstoppable.
Summing it up
To foster a fair and just world, we must recognize the interwoven nature of diverse forms of oppression. By openly discussing our values, empathetically listening, demanding accountability from elected officials, and aligning with organizations dedicated to building power, we can strategically navigate the complexities of oppression. It is equally important, however, to thoughtfully understand our boundaries and capacity. By doing so, we approach a future where ideals of justice and equality exist in theory and manifest as tangible realities for everyone.
- Geneva Academy https://geneva-academy.ch/galleries/today-s-armed-conflicts
- Center for Preventive Action https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker
- The UN on “A New Era of Conflict and Violence” https://www.un.org/en/un75/new-era-conflict-and-violence#:~:text=Homicides%20are%20becoming%20more%20frequent,is%20also%20more%20widely%20recognized