Bad things happen. Painful things happen. Both in your personal life, and in the broader world.
There is a fine line at times between taking responsibility for everything – to the point of self-blame and self-hate – and doing what you can, in the context of self-care.
Know where your line is. That is your personal boundary.
Good people do what they can. Most people ARE good.
Good people get angry. Good people feel bad or sad or mad. Good people feel helpless and heartbroken. Good people have feelings about things. Good people act on those feelings in different ways. FEEL them first, then act.
If you act authentically, mindfully, with a nuanced understanding of events and your feelings about them, you can make it a useful action. A useful action will ultimately add to the good in the world.
We are not all in positions of power and authority in the larger community, not all of our voices will have a dramatic impact on large populations of people far away. But we are all capable of having some effect on our our children, our families, our friends.
Small actions can have large outcomes. Children taught empathy grow up to be compassionate adults. Friends who are unclear about nuanced events can gain understanding.
Good people may choose to see broader events and use them as impetus to make changes in their personal lives.
People on the internet sometimes think they are taking action by being on the internet and talking about broader, painful, heartbreaking events: sometimes this is true, sometimes this is false. Net activism has a place, but not everyone on the internet is doing something useful simply by raging on the internet.
To be on the internet and raging is not enough.
People on the internet will not know that you have chosen to see upsetting world events as a driver to do volunteer work in your community. People on the internet will not know that when you see injustice on the news, you take your anger and put it into action by teaching your children to be kinder.
We need people who put their anger into action both locally and globally. We need good people to continue to do good things, in whatever way they can.
If your gift is to march, march. If your gift is to feed the hungry, feed the hungry. If your gift is to teach your children empathy, teach empathy.
If your gift is to write, write. If your gift is to draw, draw. If your gift is to debate, debate.
If your gift is to be able to listen , without judgement, as someone else processes their confusion and upset – DO THAT, listen and be present, help someone find peace and clarity.
All of these are good works. All good work is good work.
When an internet activist says “Your silence on this makes you complicit”, he or she is really saying: “My only outlet is the internet, this is my world, and you are not raging here where I can see it. I only know one way to be active – and it means sitting on my computer, watching YouTube videos and Tweeting my opinions. If it is not here, it doesn’t exist for me.”
You can be active in the real world, and a ‘net activist cannot touch that.
Let us be clear: You can be on the internet, educating people, using your gifts for the greater good, acting to change the world – and this is good work.
Let there be no confusion: All good work is good work.
You can take useful action to ultimately add good to the world. Know your own feelings, set your own boundaries, use your own gifts to improve the world. Do YOU, even in the face of tragic, heartbreaking current events. Find your own way to make sense of it all, and internet bullies be damned.