Is there a reason why people want to keep the world the way it is? Because, I don't see the profit in maintaining the status quo.
Six and a half years ago I started working at the Diversity Council, and it was the start of a growing and learning season in my life. I faced many challenges that at times would seem overwhelming, and as I was telling a co-worker the other day, it doesn't get easier, this work of diversity and inclusion; it actually gets harder. If you are open and willing; you'll also get seasoned and better at overcoming those obstacles and challenges. Isn't that what life is a little bit like--a game we are always leveling up, and the better we get, the harder the level gets? For me, life isn't really worth living if there isn't meaning and purpose in it.
I know, I know. I'm not the only one that goes through life's challenges. I've seen and lived through suffering, which does not in anyway disregard anyone else's suffering. I do believe that all living being's lives are sacred and valuable -- even those who annoy me. I'm not Buddha, I'm human and I make mistakes, I fail, I get sick, I hurt people's feelings, I get my feelings hurt. It's how life rolls when we decide to be in this world. To live this life.
The hardest part about being in this world is trying to be one's true and authentic self: to have one's worldviews, but still be able to see the worldviews of others. I may be uncompromising in many things: the unfair & unethical treatment of humans and animals, social and political injustices, the disproportionate amount of people in poverty caused by racist and xenophobic policies, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, abuse, dishonesty, greed, the commodification of Jesus and culture, hate, bigotry, and bullying. Why wouldn't I be? Those are serious topics that a person must be uncompromising and resolute in when one is trying to prevent or end these issues. Do you want someone who's wishy-washy fighting for your dignity, humanity, and human rights? Of course not!
It is imperative that I cannot pick and choose to support one movement fighting for injustice versus another.
#BlackLivesMatter to me because all lives matter, which means ALL lives: trans, immigrants, the homeless, refugees, blacks, whites, men, women, gay, straight, able-bodied, differently-abled, cops, and criminals. I can disagree, be disgusted by people's behavior and actions, but it doesn't mean I should be so indifferent to the hurt and harm people experience or inflict on others.
We all have many obstacles that can keep us from doing well in life, whether personal, emotional, physical or social. However, it doesn't mean they should define us. Being a good person in the world is a practice. I don't think it comes as easily as people think it does. You have to choose to be your best self every day. It is much easier to stand by and watch things happen, than it is to intervene or to say, "Hey, that's just not right." It's also very easy to criticize those who are trying to make the world a better place. Because, it's easier to put a person down than it is to lift them up, or even just have a real conversation and challenge one's personal beliefs and perspectives and still walk away respecting one another.
I am more than open to hearing contrary information that will challenge my already strongly held beliefs, but don't come at me with false facts and cat memes. That is just disrespectful towards my intelligence. Don't tell me I must have some mental illness that makes me think this way, because I do have a mental illness, and I've lived with it my whole life and am very well aware of it and manage it daily. It doesn't make me crazy, it makes me sad (I have pills for that). In addition, it also makes me very introspective.
I can have major depression and still fight for social justice, be a good person in the world and still seek to understand the inhumanity of the world in order to find ways to help solve the world's problems. It is very difficult to fix a very large complex problem with very simple and small fixes, or with the same mindset that created these ginormous problems to begin with.
It is possible to find the desire within oneself to find a way to fix the world's problems no matter how immense these problems may seem. For me, compassion is an action word. It is possible to sit with other's in their suffering and want to help them move through it and work with them to fix it (if it can be fixed or needs to be fixed).
I'm enough. We are all enough. We can be the solutions to the world's problems if we are willing to find a way to come to compassionate consensus.
President Obama in his 2008 Democratic Nominee acceptance speech said,
"That’s the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper.
That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now."
Compassionate consensus is the notion that people can transcend their politics and beliefs and solve problems and do the most good for the most people because we care, that we care enough about the suffering of others to feel compelled to do something to help or change it. Fighting for social justice shouldn't be about what political party or what my religious beliefs are, but how I see myself in the world and what my values are. What kind of person do I, Vangie Castro, want to be in the world, and how do I want the world to see me?
I fight for equity and social justice because I want to do good in the world. I truly believe there are evil people out there wanting to hurt and harm individuals and our society to gain the most benefit for themselves. I take to heart the words of Albert Einstein, "The world is an dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."
There is some strong resistance to compassionate consensus, so I'm just saying, it's going to take some strong people to get things done. It's scary. I live in a town that will shut you down if someone says the truth about something to someone who doesn't like the truth, and their friends don't like it either. We don't like the truth because it upsets our comfortable lives, but just because it upsets our sensibilities doesn't make it any less true.
It's been a year since Philando Castile was shot by a St. Anthony Village Police Office while his fiance, 4-year old daughter, and the world watched him die. No Justice for Philando. 17 trans women have been murdered so far in 2017. Civil wars rage and drought cause famine in far off lands for millions of people. The country is divided, and it's not just politically but racially, and that's real.
I don't have to fight so hard. I don't have to care so much. But, I do. I have a good life, I'm happy with my friends, family, and work. I don't want for anything. I have an education, a career, my health, and a nice home to go to. Why would I sacrifice my reputation or my livelihood for a cause?
Because it's the right thing to do.
I'm not stepping on people's backs to get to where I'm going. But I'm standing on the shoulders of those who came before me, and that's real. I give back to my community, to the people who don't have enough, for those who are too afraid to speak for themselves, because I made it out, and I didn't do it alone. So this is my way to pay the cost of living on this planet. This is what I've done and continue to do to pay it forward.
This will be my last blog as the Education Program Manager for the Diversity Council. I am thankful for this organization and the work they do and continue to do to make this community a welcoming and inclusive place we can call home. I am thankful for the people who have helped and encouraged me to grow and challenge my thoughts and beliefs and make me a better version of myself. Thank you to all the community members, supporters, volunteers, and staff who have been my cheering section for all these years. You have been wonderful allies and comrades in the fight for equity and social justice. I look forward to continuing the struggle in a new way with a new crew. However, I will never forget the experiences and adventure I was able to travel with my Diversity Council family.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
74 Seconds Podcast: The Traffic Stop:
Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 but 4: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/27/donald-trump-first-100-days-president-ohio-voters
Violence Against Transgender Community 2017: