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We must try harder

It can be difficult, sometimes, to remember that we’re all human.

It’s exhausting to think about all those human lives playing out simultaneously; all those innumerable experiences overlapping and interlinking and co-creating our shared reality. All those emotions. All that suffering and trumph and longing and relief. All that love and all that loss. All those lives as rich and meaningful and fragile as our own. All happening right now, all over this planet.

It’s easier to think mostly of ourselves and our lives and our experiences. To use ourselves as a proxy for everyone else. To relate to people from our place, not troubling ourselves to stretch beyond the reach of our comfortable imaginings – not really thinking it necessary.

We can be good, kind, empathetic people and still be complicit in atrocity because we are simply, blissfully, unaware – because we complacently just carried on living our lives, treating people as we’d want to be treated, thinking that was enough, assuming that the things we never thought to imagine don’t exist.

But when they do exist, and when they’re terrible, and when they’re killing and terrorising people, then we’re failing our fellow humans if we don’t look at them square in the face. If we don’t trouble ourselves to uncomfortably, painfully, excruciatingly imagine what it is like to be like them.

We will never know what it is like to be something we are not. But we can listen carefully to those people who are, and we can draw inadequate parallels, and we can stretch our imaginings, and we can learn to understand as best we can. And we need to, if we want to save this world.

I am grieving the loss of George Floyd, and so many others I am too ignorant to list the names of. I am grieving the loss of humanity that led to their deaths. I am horrified, on behalf of all humans, by what has been done to our people, by our people. And I am painfully aware that, right now, we are not one people, and to suggest such a thing may, in fact, be deeply offensive. I am scared to navigate this terrain because, in so many ways, I have no right. But I do have a responsibility.

Fixing this is all of our responsibility, and we should have already stood up. But if, like me, we hadn’t, well we damn well need to stand up now.

I’m a lifelong coward, and I’m just not-white enough to get a nice tan. I don’t know shit. But here are some people who do:

Austin Channing Brown

Rachel Cargle

Prof. Ibram Kendi

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