It’s hard for me to put into words how I feel about living in this country. How I feel about being an American. Being a white American. Being a straight white male American. A cisgender, able-bodied, college-educated, middle class American.
Because on the one hand, I know that this society was built for and designed by people like me, which ideally should feel like a good thing, but on the other hand, I’ve looked at what this country has done, around the world and at home. The way that we used the tragedy of 9/11 as a blank check to wage an endless war around the world, and the way that we’ve always had a history of white supremacy, and sexism, and homophobia, and transphobia, and how this country, which is supposed to stand for liberty and justice and freedom and positive things, has failed those ideals in so many ways.
Is it the worst country in the world? No. Of course not. But could it stand to be a lot better, and is the path that we’re heading on a path that we need to be concerned about? Hell yes.
In less than a month, we’re going to have the most important election I think in my lifetime, and probably the most important election in our history. And being raised in an individualistic society that downplays the importance of civic responsibility, it’s mind-boggling to know where to start if we want to do anything about it.
Those of us who have not grown up with activism as a habit, or with communities of activism, where we could have learned how to prioritize the work needed for positive change while also managing our lives… we’re at a loss. We claim to be citizens of a democracy and yet we feel completely disempowered to make a difference.
I’ve been wrestling with this for most of my life, because, although I’ve wanted to be more involved in activism, and more involved in making the world a better place, my main obstacle has been clinical depression. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work on personal development and psychological healing and spiritual growth to improve my ability to manage my own life despite what depression can do, and in that time I’ve seen that the same tools that I need to manage my life—and which I think many people who suffer from depression or anxiety or other forms of mental illness could benefit from to manage their lives—that those tools that we can use are also the tools that can be used for social transformation
Because the more that I’ve worked on what I’ve needed for myself, I’ve seen how the seeds of racism, the seeds of capitalism, the seeds of intolerance, and not listening to people, and blaming victims—essentially, the seeds of hate and distrust—all those things start here. Start inside me. But I’ve also seen how the capacity for love, compassion, and hope exist inside me as well, and that those qualities can be developed and strengthened for my own benefit and for the world’s.
So I’ve been working on a program for how to look at our lives in a holistic way, and take control of our lives. Because if we really want to change the world, we’re going to have to change our lives.
We’re going to have to change our lives.
One of my favorite memes is of a farmer holding a sign, and it says, “Treat racism like covid: assume that you have it, try not to spread it, listen to the experts about it, and be willing to change your life to end it.”
That last part, “be willing to change your life to end it.” That is something that we as a culture don’t know how to do. Capitalism and racism and sexism and environmental exploitation are on autopilot, and they wouldn’t be so deeply entrenched if people knew how to change their lives.
Changing my life is something that I have been spending my entire life trying to learn how to do, because when you’re depressed you have to learn how to change your life if you want to be able to have any kind of happiness. You have to learn how to do things differently. You have to learn how to look at what you do every day and how that affects you. This is why I believe I’ve learned a few things about how to change my life and about how that can help us change the world.
What I would like to share with people this month is a tool that I’m going to be using to help intentionally set up the life that I want to live, that’s in alignment with my values and in alignment with the vision that I have for a truly just world, and show how we can use that as a roadmap for our personal lives that will move us into a direction of actually changing the world together.
So if this is something you have any interest in, if you have any interest in changing your life, now is the time. Right now during the pandemic—during this time when our routines are so up in the air—is actually a great time to figure out how to change our lives, because so much of what we do is habit, and habits are largely determined by context. When there’s a pattern interrupt like a pandemic, or a break up in a relationship, or losing a job or moving to a new town or getting a new job, all those things are fundamental changes that shake up your daily schedule and actually free things up to change. If you can do it with intention and if you can do it with a mind towards what’s truly important, it can be a very powerful time, so this is something that I’d like to share with people.
I’m going to try to put up at least two or three videos a week in the next month. I also have to manage a few other things, including my mental health and studying for a licensing exam that’s coming up in a few weeks, and figuring out how to actually make a difference in this election. These are all things that I’m trying to juggle. Because we all have things going on in our lives, and we all, I think, want to know how to make a bigger difference, how to change the world, even if we’re just starting with this election.
That’s a great place to start. If you’ve never been involved in activism before, this is a great place to start. This is a place to tell your children and grandchildren what you did to prevent fascism from becoming the next wave of American government. Because it’s here, and we need to do something about it.
And we need to learn how to change our lives to do it.
So I hope you’ll join me. I’m going to be providing exercises that I’m doing. I highly recommend having a notebook or journal for this process.
If you have any questions along the way, let me know. We can do this together.
Ok. Be well.