by Aja Schmeltz
The chronic blatant disregard for human life in this country is profoundly disgusting. With every news report on the uptick in violence against members of the AAPI and LGBTQIA+ communities; the treatment of asylum seekers at “the border”; police brutality and negligence; vigilantism and white supremacy, I’m constantly retraumatized. How can someone separate a child from their family and then lock them in a cage? How can someone walk into a salon, open fire and kill 8 innocent people? How can someone put their knee on a man’s neck and watch him slowly and painfully die? Why are so many in this country denied basic human rights? How many times can we see these incidents before our own mental and emotional health is affected? When is enough enough? How do we maintain our strength and well-being in the pursuit of social justice?
“Transition is inevitable. Justice is not.” GWI often shares that quote from Movement Generation and the Climate Justice Alliance. And as I sit here staring at this screen, reflecting on those words, I’m tuning into what’s happening in my body. I’m rooting down, trying to brace myself. There is a wild tempest of emotion brewing inside of me. This emotional storm has passed through me many times before. I know the drill. I am also figuratively (and periodically, literally) holding my breath, but I am not waiting to exhale. It feels more like the inhale before a scream. I am tired, but more emotionally and mentally than physically. I feel this continuous ache in my heart coupled with rage. All of this is familiar to me unfortunately. But behind all of that, I am motivated.
I feel some relief that accountability was rendered in the Derek Chauvin case, but there is much more work to be done. We must continue to be actively and consistently working towards true social justice in our places. We must continue to honor the lives lost. We must continue to be both supportive to and supported by each other. We must continue to unlearn and learn. We must continue to amplify the work of initiatives and organizations leading this work. We must hold our elected officials accountable. We must hold space for and hold on to one another. We must be the change. Justice is in all of our best interest and it requires humanity and mutuality for there is not a single action that we take that does not affect other forms of life on this planet. We are all interconnected and interdependent.
I am tired, but I am not finished. I will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow humans in the fight for social justice. I will continue to ground my work in integrity, equity, love and compassion. And I will continue to find strength and inspiration in all of your Good Work!
“Every crisis needs to be viewed as an opportunity to bring about profound changes in our society.”
– Grace Lee Boggs