By Jonathan Izzo || Contributing Writer
Although Joe Biden is the new president-elect, our fight has only begun.
We, the United States citizens, have to remember and recognize that both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are only figureheads to a larger, unsustainable system of oppression and exploitation that harm us all in different ways. We cannot rely on the hope that a system that fails so many of us will be what also saves us from our troubles. We The People are the ones who have to make the changes. It is not up to boys like Joseph or Donald to make change; it’s up to us!
Here are some of the ways we can start:
Educate yourself. Your knowledge and awareness is your power.
Understand the bigger picture and the root of the problem along with the facts. Cross-reference, unlearn and relearn. Make sure what you learn is rooted in fact and not just propaganda that upholds your personal beliefs. People won’t respect your views if you can’t back them up with the truth. I know as Franklin and Marshall students we are privileged with an education which teaches us about important topics, but we need to engage in our own outside understanding as well. We need to obtain information and wisdom found outside the classroom.
Write or speak to your regional government office.
Express your opinion. Show them facts, evidence, and testimony. Express what you think needs to get done; express what is important to you. Real people with real power will read what you write and take it into account. Start small and work your way up.
Learn a new perspective.
Sit down with the “enemy.” Sit down with someone from the other side, and understand why they believe what they do. Understand their point of view and rationale. Don’t scold: “How could you be so evil?” Rather, ask, “Why do you believe this?” And listen. Do not just wait for your turn to speak. Listen with an open heart and the understanding that you could have just as easily been born in their shoes. There’s something to learn from everyone; although you don’t have to agree with someone to understand them, you can find common ground.
Next, learn to separate your political beliefs from your personal identity. I believe one’s personal identity can influence or affect our political beliefs, but we should not pose something as wrong just because we ourselves do not believe in it. Don’t get so caught up in your biased viewpoint and grow resentful of another person’s viewpoint. Only then can we have healing conversations with those whose ideas we oppose.
One open-minded, empathetic conversation at a time can heal the scars this nation has endured. Canceling, hating, polarizing, separating, and believing there is a “them” and an “us” is a disease. This disease is constructed and fueled by the elite so that we fight amongst ourselves rather than work together to heal the system keeping us controlled, angry, disillusioned, and ill as a nation.
We are pointing the fingers at the wrong people, and we are forgetting that every person we encounter is only another human being trying to navigate this messy world. We fail to fully recognize that we all want the same things: happiness, love, peace, balance, and freedom. We fail to fully grasp that the other side is just as human as ourselves. If you don’t have people in your life that have varying political beliefs, or if you intentionally shut those people out, then you will never understand why someone would support what you denounce. Part of being open-minded is letting go of a belief or an idea that you hold onto so tightly.
The opposite of progress is polarization and division. How dare you expect progress if you put down and separate yourself from “the other half.” Who are you to judge another person? Our hate for our brothers and sisters only fuels the fires that burn down our mother earth, only strengthens the force that unjustly kills a black person, only further separates another family looking for a dream of freedom, only elects a less qualified candidate to the highest office on earth. Putting up a wall of rejection against what you do not understand or accept only blinds us from the resentment growing from our unlove on the other side. That violation of unconditional love will one day come back to bite us in the ass… if it has not already. The only way anything will get done is if we set our differences aside and work together to find a solution to problems we all share. This vision may take decades to cultivate, but we must work from where we are now, with what we have now, rather than where we wish to be. Use your racial privilege, class privilege, education, and freedom of speech and assembly to help lift others up. Use the gifts the divine has given you. You have more than what you need to start making this world a better place. We can all be kinder to one another. As a spiritual teacher, Ram Dass once said, “I can only help you by working on myself; you can only help me by working on yourself.” We are only beginning, but we need all of us to cooperate in order to do this.
I hope you will meditate on your power and ability and potential to bring your light into a darkening world. I know I am far from perfect, and I am only getting started with my journey myself. What is important is I know I am giving the best. I know how to give in each moment I am granted. I hope you are too.
First-year Jonathan Izzo is a contributing writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.