I’ve written about my annual education before. The Ashland Independent Film Festival screens issues that concern me, intrigue me, inspire me, anger me, delight me. Coming off of five days of films I am cracked open.
So when I caught up on the newspapers and read Leonard Pitts my stomach clutched and my chest tightened. It was a definitely a call to action. As I paced from the kitchen to the couch my mind churned, “What action can I take?”
It is a familiar feeling.
This past week, I watched a compelling short by Reinaldo Marcus Green called, Stop. Due to scheduling I missed the documentary, 3 1/2 Minutes but because HBO has picked it up, I will have opportunities to see yet another story of tragedy arising from fear and prejudice.
What is the answer?
There is no answer to those who believe that these are isolated incidents with no cohesive underlying thread. Arguments are useless with those who believe that justice prevails. And why think my opinion is more important than others?
I just want answers for myself. Because violence always feels personal to me. Whether it is a unarmed black man or an armed policemen, a trafficked teenager, a murdered photojournalist in Afghanistan, or child in a refugee camp in the Sudan, brutality touches me. It affects my life. I want to know what I can do.
It is no longer possible for me to charge off on my white horse to slay dragons. And there is a limit to how much money I can throw at any cause as well as the many questions about the best place to send it.
First, I suppose, is to always remember that I am the change. I can search my heart and listen to my words. I may watch my actions, making sure that I embody what I believe – that we are all the same. But I want to go further than that. I want to mirror my sure knowledge that violence to a young person on a college campus or to a member of a drug cartel in Mexico touches me and my privileged life in a peaceful neighborhood. I want to demonstrate my willingness to comprehend that the pain is true and real.
Then I will have put my education to use.
P. S. Just this weekend I had the privilege of hearing Rigoberta Menchu speak. Much of what she said resonated with me but I was especially happy to hear her reiterate that each one of us can always make a difference. We can create change within ourselves. We can believe and speak our truth.