a world

The Train Is Leaving. Get on or Get Out.

 

Change is difficult to accept, and everyone can agree that at some point or another in their lives, they had to face a change that they didn’t like.

You had to get used to it, and then you were fine.

When it comes to things like moving to a new state or changing jobs, it’s okay to struggle with letting go of a lifestyle you were comfortable with because, ultimately, that’s your issue. When it comes to societal changes, however, refusing to accept new things can hurt other people immensely, and that’s not okay.

In our current society, we’ve been facing some massive changes to cultural norms in the last couple of decades. People have both helped and hurt that change, but the results are the same — society will keep moving forward. If you’re not willing to take baby steps alongside it, you’re part of the problem. The key is to learn where the problem starts and how to change that.

It Starts with What We’re Taught

American history books are known for washing away painful parts of our past, which some argue can be good for very young children who can’t understand the concept of those parts anyway. However, when they get older, kids need to be learning about the dark mistakes of our culture’s past so they can understand why we still struggle with related issues today.

Another issue is that kids learn about events like the Civil Rights movement, and they walk out of class with a sense of pride that our country has been there, done that. But that’s not true. Parents need to take an active role in explaining that these events were important because they gave voice to the silenced minorities and laid the groundwork for the real change that still needs to happen.

If no one explains to the future generations that the history books are only explanations for our cultural problems and not the answers, the societal progress America has experienced with things like racial and gender equality will come to a standstill. The people who would be hurt by that cannot afford to be sent 10 steps back after fighting for the ground that they’ve gained.

Time Has Shown Resistance Hurts

What happened recently in Charlottesville, Virginia has been all over the news because it shocked the nation. Not only was it eye-opening to see how many white supremacists were able to come together to protest, but it was also a horrific moment to realize that the positive steps we’ve taken as a country to make minorities feel safe and equally valued haven’t totally worked.

Maybe you’ve been part of the crowd which doesn’t see systemic racism and intolerance for what it is. Maybe you’ve been able to make excuses for dangerous and destructive acts of bigotry or racism as one-time acts by loners, or the usual actions of brainwashed people who’ve lost themselves in their ideologies. It’s time to stop.

There’s no excuse for having a belief system that discriminates against others and encourages violence to prove your commitment.

This Is Good Change

With the easy access people have to resources on the internet that show video evidence of discriminatory violence, it’s easier to see the terrible effects of such beliefs and actions. Connecting to others and hearing their experiences through modern day technology is helping people have compassion for others who struggle in ways they couldn’t imagine, and it’s pushing social change forward in a positive direction.

Legalizing gay marriage not only gave basic rights to those in the LGBTQ community, but it also helped create more homes with people looking to adopt and add to the millions of children living in same-sex households. Passing anti-discrimination laws decreases suicide rates, and people coming together despite religious differences can make those in stigmatized religions feel safer going about their day-to-day lives.

Change is scary because everyone fears the unknown. However, we have enough documented evidence showing that changes in attitudes toward minorities and their rights have been good for everyone involved. If you’re unable to recognize this, it’s time to read everything you can on how minorities face challenges that you might not.

Turn your sympathy into activism by learning how you can use your position in society to take a stand. Change is happening, and denial is no longer an option.

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Kate Harveston
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer and blogger. Her work focuses on equality and social justice issues. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found curled up in her hammock with a book or exploring the city for trendy coffee shops. If you would like to follow her writing, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.