It comes down to this one thing
Silence. That’s right, this lifetime could be a total flop because of people keeping their mouths shut, folding their hands and minding their own business. Ironic that this mannerism used to be enforced upon children and called “good behaviour” when you consider what it’s led to.
Why do people not speak up about horrific occurrences such as the terrible, unfathomable ones happening as I write and you read which should never have existed?
There are people marching with handwritten banners, kneeling down in protest of the treatment of blacks and to fight racial prejudice. Some in other parts of the world, like myself, are signing as many petitions as possible, expressing their views against discrimination on social media, and educating themselves on racial bias through reading enlightening novels or watching shows like 13th on Netflix. Those who are able to are donating to fund causes that fight for human equality or support black businesses.
And then there are the people who do nothing. I don’t understand this. How can you see what’s happening in the world and not take even the smallest form of action to be part of a fight for change?
Perhaps this proportion of people do not understand how much power their voice has in making a change, or maybe they are too cowardly to speak up, or worst of all they believe that they are not affected by the situation and that being neutral is better than being on a side. Here’s what I have to say to you if you fall into this category. I shouldn’t have to convince you to take action, but I’m going to anyway- for humanity’s sake.
1. Your voice matters. It is heard.
People power is truly inspirational and is something I strongly believe in. When we are together, the effect we make is so much more impactful but remember that the community is made up of individuals- you need to be one of them. Don’t fool yourself with the mindset that 1 person can’t make an effect in a world made of 7.5 billion others because you couldn’t be more wrong.
“The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.” -Wael Ghonim
Over the years, history has proved this concept over and over again. An example would be the Solidarity movement which was started up in Poland in 1980 by Lech Walesa. Over 9.4 million people were part of this non-violent trade union and it played a crucial role in the downfall of the Communist reign over the country that had been started by the USSR.
I personally love History and I could describe so many similar events, but I understand this might not be your favourite thing to spend your Saturday night reading (or whatever time it is in your timezone!) so let me summarise the same message that we can take away from events like the solidarity movement and protests against racial inequality: People have the power to make any change, if only they decide to.
2. Speak up for your principles
Don’t be a coward- the world has enough people like that. Be brave enough to stand up for what you believe in and use any platform or way you can think of to show that. Take to social media to voice your thoughts, spread awareness through writing or reading on Medium, and sign petitions to be part of a greater collective movement striving for a change.
Most of all, speak out at your colleagues, your friends, even your family, and educate them. This is probably the most difficult but also the most crucial step. If you can change the thinking system of just one person and help them realise that issues like racism, discrimination, abuse, etc are never justified, you have played a part to better humanity. I haven’t yet found myself in a situation where I needed to confront those around me and speak up for what I believe in, and I confess that even if I had, a younger me might have just appeased, but now that I understand the importance of standing up for my values for the progression of the world, I will not again sit down and be walked over. I will stand up for my principles, and if a 16-year-old can do it you sure can too.
3. If you are neutral, you are part of the problem
This is something that must be understood by all. A few years ago I read Inferno by Dan Brown (great book, by the way) and I loved the quote he referenced.
“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”- Dante
Whether or not you believe in hell, the essence of this quote is about making a decision. In terms of racism, simply deciding that it does not affect you and hence not taking part means you are thrown in the group of racists. Being neutral is not enough- you must be anti-racist. The same goes for many other issues we find ourselves facing in the 21st century.
I hope that there are few who believe that racism does not affect them. I’m a 16-year-old in Malaysia who has never been discriminated in my life, and that’s because I’m privileged- there’s no denying that. But no matter what my nationality, race, or appearance, it is my duty to do as much as I can because I am strongly anti-racist and want to have a brighter, equal future.
The purpose of this piece of writing is to inspire you to take part in the peaceful but effective fight for justice. I hope from the bottom of my heart that we will all finally understand that we are part of a community where each individual’s voice is heard loud and clear, where we speak up for our principles to make lasting changes, and where we understand that no matter where in the world we are, no matter skin color, no matter gender, we are all connected with a single action affecting us all.
Remember that you are vital in the pursuit of justice.
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