Last week was quite a rant, if I do say so myself. It was a dive into a pool I’ve been walking around for quite some time, a pool that I figured would be freezing cold and hard swimming and so I put it off, waited until I felt the time was right to jump. Jump I did, and it felt brisk, invigorating, refreshing. It felt like a purge, to be frank, a spill out of a lot of thoughts I’ve had in my mind for a lot of time, and I’m thankful to you all, and to this Signal Fire, for the place to do it. I talked a lot about how we keep expecting things to change in this country, on this planet, but we keep doing a lot of the same things that prevent it. We just get stuck, I think, as humans are such creatures of routine, of habit that feels warm and snug, like a blanket that has a tube always connected to hot cocoa or something, a beer helmet for hot chocolate, or something, I don’t know. Saying that, I realized that as a follow-up to how I was feeling and spilling last week, perhaps it’d be prudent to offer some areas we can be better, some ways we can show up more, and in doing so institute a greater degree of change. It’s possible, you know, it’s entirely feasible to stop the loops we seem to get stuck in, to be those butterfly wings that flap in the desert of Africa, causing a hurricane months later in the Caribbean. We’re all wings, and I’ve this burning suspicion that if we just just tried flapping a bit more, we’d see changes, we’d see ripples, all over the planet we share.
In the simplest terms, my advice can be boiled down to a sentence or two, and so I’ll offer this: We must fight. We must put our money/hope/words/presence where our mouth is. That’s it. We just gotta do more, and by more for most of us, I mean we gotta do something. I think so often people get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ways they could be or should be helping, that they end up not helping at all. It’s analysis paralysis, it’s the staring at the drive-thru menu and finding yourself speechless as there’s just too many choices, too many decisions. We freeze in the face of indecision, and we freeze in the face of feeling like there’s so much help needed, we know not where to begin. Here, again, I will simplify: Start where you are, with what you have, and help. In any way possible, help. Start with something that you have a personal connection to if you must, as often this little thread of understanding can be a powerful rope that anchors you to the cause. This is ok. Start with something that you see in front of you in your own community, something that makes it easier to see the results of your action in something that more resembles real-time. Start with small goals and build upwards from there. Start with reaching out, in truth, as the first step is to ask how best you can be in service to whichever cause you’re trying to help with. Ask questions, ask them again, ask how you are most valuably used. I find, as a white, heterosexual, middle-class male, I have a silly privilege that I was born into and never did a damn thing to deserve. My favorite thing to do, is try to figure out ways to exploit that privilege for good, to use it against itself and spread it out to others who aren’t as fortunate to enjoy it. An example, as examples are sometimes helpful to illustrate the range from simplicity to a complexity that is not easily undertaken, of the form that help can assume: Beyond the fact that LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights, and should be inarguable and true, I am personally, deeply, connected to this community. While I am a cis-white-straight-male, as you all know by now, I donated sperm to a beautiful LGBTQIA+ couple, not once, but twice, so that they may start a family on their terms, how they wished, in as close to a ‘normal’ way as possible. Now, Elliot and Salem are two absolutely BEAUTIFUL representations of love being love, of how family can and should look, and constant reminders to me as to how valuable and necessary it is for more people to fight, actually fight, for the rights and equalities of groups that are not their own. In short, we need more allies, in more places, for more groups, than ever before. It goes without saying, if we fight alone, we will lose, and nothing will change.
Being an ally is fundamental, and it’s vital, and it’s wonderful. BUT, and I say this but after a pause for dramatic effect, there is a staggering difference between being a passive ally, and an active one. We cannot stand on the sidelines any longer, we need to be louder, we need to be stronger, we need to be active. There are so many different ways to help, so many different groups that need our help, from LGBTQIA+ to Black Lives Matter, to Native American groups desperate to preserve their culture and language, to homeless groups, to refugees, to neurodivergents, to just about anything else you can possibly imagine. Point is, if we all found something we wanted to help fight for, if we all stood up instead of stood by, so many more changes would take place, so much could be accomplished.
As is, like I mentioned last week, we’re expecting different results whilst doing the very same things, and I think it’s time we graduate from this. These past two years have provided us the unique opportunity to reflect, and to do some serious soul searching. What I’ve come to realize, is that helping, giving, is getting, and the tangible benefit of doing so belongs not only to those we help, but to ourselves as we do the helping. It just fucking FEELS good to make others feel better.
It’s not a secret, nor an exaggeration, to feel as though over these two years, and the half decade leading up to them, things have gotten a bit bleaker, a bit darker round these parts. These parts actually mean everywhere, but hey, we’ll stay semi-local for now. Trouble is, this darkness rolled in and was largely fueled less by “active awfulness” I’ll call it, and more with passive ambivalence, more with silent apathy. This silence from all those who should be allies, let the voices of smaller, fringe, down-right f’ing horrible groups, be so much louder, and seem so much more dominant. Enough of this, enough allowing them to think they’re the voice of this place, enough allowing them to be the only ones shouting. WE must shout back, we must stand up, and we must be willing to put our money/hope/words/presence/action where our mouth is. We must, because if we do not, what’s the point anyway?
Last week, the rant I went on was an enlightening one, even for myself. It was a stream of consciousness that just kind of fell from me, as though it’d been waiting for a chance to escape my lips and fingertips too long. This week, I wanted to follow it up on some quick and simple advice on how we Can make the changes we’re expecting, how we can stop doing what we’ve always done, and more, why we should.
Whatever you do, do it well, whatever you are, be it all the way. Be an ally, and be not afraid to fight. We’re here, and we’re right beside you.
Stand up to the fight,
refuse to retreat from this,
defy that silence.