I am increasingly willing to accept that I may be the tiniest cog in the works… Perhaps it’s best to find peace with this. It will not make me stop striving for change, but it will take the focus off my own requirements and put them all on the issue at hand, where it belongs.
Hello, Hello, Hello!
I haven’t written a post in a while, and a lot has happened in the world since. That’s the go-to reintroduction in any space during the enigma that is 2020. Of course, you aren’t relying on me to give my perspective on recent events but I shall give it nonetheless!
Welcome to somevariables.
This post will cover 4 topics: Social Media, Revolution (a comeback), Education (+reading) and Passion. Yay, exciting! Let’s get into it.
We know that it’s a double-edged sword. Through our usage we have the power to build up and tear down, and doing so has come with more ease than ever before. For example we saw the power of social media in the past few weeks with the ENDSARS protests in Nigeria and the awareness raised about coltan mining in Congo with the hashtag #CongoIsBleeding. These are things that were happening in the world which social media brought to our attention, specifically filling in the gaps that broadcast and print news companies left wide open. That’s what hashtags are all about and we are grateful for it.
I had a change of heart during the week because I held an underdeveloped opinion that social media activism is hardly activism. By that I meant sharing posts, using hashtags, expressing rage, and doing nothing else. But I read a tweet that shut me up, as it explained that we only found out about these horrible occurrences through social media itself, so it is clearly an effective tool towards justice and liberation. Why not carry it on?
The main qualm that remains for me is the extent to which we as a collective, with the same hopes of liberation in mind, believe that social media is the liberator. We all know that there is more to be done.
Raising awareness on social media platforms is the first step; it’s a method by which those in power can be pressured by tangible, acute and inescapable civil unrest, and make a move in the correct direction to fix the problem (though they scarcely do so, unfortunately).
But beyond raising awareness is actual change. This puts pressure on the literal movement of obstacles, which is not as easy as we would like it to be. Especially when the powers that should not be (I like that, learnt it from a flat earther documentary. I am not a flat earther though.) benefit from these obstacles being in place. Such a sticky situation leads me to my next point.
Many people think they will see change now. Yet as time goes by it feels like we must accept that we might not see the change. Emphasis on the we, because I have heard people say that they don’t want to be fighting for the same causes that they are now when they’re old. But we can see that happening in this moment. Angela Davis has as much to say about Black Radical Unity & Power now as she did during the USA’s Civil Rights Movement.
How okay are you with change not happening in your lifetime? (see my poem, What Do You Think?) Will you accept that it could instead happen in someone else’s, or do you feel a right to experience that right now? This is not to be negative, as we have seen a lot of positive change in our years. However, changes on the macro scale such as poverty, corruption and racism seem to have roots that run so deep, that it will take generations to finally topple those hateful trees over.
I believe that the passion for a cause erases temporal desires. Yes things are urgent, but regardless of the timescale, it is something one should be timelessly passionate about.
I am increasingly willing to accept that I may be the tiniest cog in the works, or the faintest breath in the wind that makes the butterfly flap its wings. Perhaps it’s best to find peace with this. It will not make me stop striving for change, but it will take the focus off my own requirements and put them all on the issue at hand, where it belongs.
Do you agree? Let’s see how this approach holds up.
I am reminded of the Toni Morrison quote where she said, “When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
I can relate this to education and reading. A lot of us have more knowledge than we give credit to, and therefore a lot more power than we feel at liberty to utilise. How amazing would it be if we always shared what we just learnt and spoke openly about the answers we have just been given? If some knowledge has freed you, it should not stop with you. You should free others with that same knowledge. This in my opinion contributes towards collectivism in the best way. In summary, it’s an “everybody eats” mentality and I am here for it.
Of course, sometimes sharing knowledge requires you to read the room first, but you’re smart enough to do that. Do not underestimate the potential you have to make a difficult concept more understandable because of how you, as an individual, will frame your sentences. There is a lot of power in your hands and no one holds that power like you do. Mix that with what you have just learnt, and that right there is unique and relevant teaching!
Along those lines, reading is also important. If there’s anything I learnt from the BLM movement earlier this year, it’s that fact checking what you read on social media is very important. Many terrible things are true, but the last thing I want is to spread fake news. I hate to write about it but it’s very relevant. Simply ensuring that what you are sharing is factual will go a long way. And developing your own opinion and perspective is more so important.
For example, sanctions. After the Lekki toll gate massacre on October 20th, there was a petition circulated to demand for the UK to impose sanctions on the Nigerian government. I wasn’t too sure of what sanctions would do, and any involvement from the west sounded fishy to me. So I did some reading and spoke to someone who knows more about this topic than I do. I then decided that signing the petition would not be the best idea, even though most people were pushing it.
Grassroots change is what we need. Not western intervention.
Rather than regurgitating popular opinion in the midst of rage and unrest, it is still important to check exactly what platform you are standing on and what you are promoting. We learnt this at school – sources, evidence, footnotes, comprehension… Let’s try to maintain these skills in the midst of social justice, where it matters the most.
This is a semi-tangent. But life has sparked a lot of curiosity in me lately, and my answers reside in books. I want to read so much more than I currently am – both fiction and non-fiction. I believe that claiming a passion (in this case, reading) should lead you to spending as much time on it as you can; perhaps even pressuring yourself (healthily) to keep on doing it, and get better at it.
I want to know more so I need to read more. Can you fill that sentence in for yourself?
Here are 4 books/essays on my own reading list:
- My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
- An End To The Neglect Of The Problems Of The Negro Woman! By Claudia Jones
- The Sellout by Paul Beatty
- The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
That will be all. Long winded, but compensatory in light of my absence! I hope this got you thinking about something.
This week I also realised that you should run with all of your ideas. No matter how small or irrelevant they seem. See what sticks – work on them until they become relevant, or until they evolve into something beyond your imagination.
Until text time.