My mother once said something to me that resonated in me, I think, in a much stronger way than she meant it. There was an awful storm brewing in the Texas town where I was raised. Much damage was anticipated (and much damage ultimately was caused) and people were leaving town, boarding up, the whole nine yards. I remember speaking to my mom as the storm was approaching and she was sitting in her window. I asked her why she wasn't leaving or hiding out and she said, "Hell no! If it's gonna get me I'm not gonna hide from it! I'm gonna look that mother fucker right in the face first!" I was so pleased to hear my mother's attitude about not cowering to this huge force of nature, but also, it makes me think about the dangers in society.
In the western world, and in the United States particularly, the majority of us do not look the storms in the face. Catastrophic, horrible dangerous things are all around us. Brewing, storming, sweeping around and causing damage in their wake. We all (both figuratively and literally) bunker down in our dwellings, draw the shades tight, turn up the sound on the video game and live completely oblivious to the damage being done, right down until our own space is wrecked to smitherines. Holding on to that last moment of mindless bliss is so important to many of us. Denying that we are in any danger or that our neighbors or friends across town are suffering. Or our fellow humans across the globe. We remove ourselves from the things we see on the news. We accept the version of the story that the news anchor on Fox News at 10 gives us. We don't search out more details on world events, government policies, or the roots of crimes being committed by seemingly average people. We accept ideas of "good neighborhoods" and "bad neighborhoods" and think of police brutalities as isolated events and move on.
While I've made no real effort to change the world, I have made a commitment not to let the world change me. To always see it for what it is. As my mother illustrated, to look the storm in the face. The overwhelming, supersized threats to myself and to my fellow man. I will not bunker down and pretend everything's fine when it's not. I will not pretend that women in Rwanda aren't still rebuilding their lives post genocide or that big businesses in America aren't trying to manipulate me into thinking I'm less than I could be without their products. I will not ignore society's manipulations or fall prey to the lies told by the media. It's a small commitment ultimately, but it makes a huge difference for me. And it's something I wish more people (particularly here in the USA) had the courage to do. To surrender the distraction and the fantasy, and live in the real world.