This year has been filled with unbelievable challenges. First, was the arrival of the pandemic. Second, was the amplification of systemic issues brought to the forefront by the death of George Floyd. Third, is the sheer limitation that the first two issues have impacted on most everyone in the world. Lastly, the everyday challenges that we have to deal with as human beings living in these times. We have to navigate these challenges if we want to improve our lives furthermore, we have to learn how to engage each other in order to build a stronger community so we all thrive.
With the explosion of the internet, social media, and information comes the ability for many voices to be heard. Although this is a positive step, there are negatives that are drawbacks. One of the drawbacks that concerns me is the fact that if we don’t agree with any certain view, we have the option to find exactly the view that we do agree with. Many human beings don’t like to be challenged and want to be right all the time. Somehow, being wrong is a negative in this new age. In essence, people scold others about changing their opinion.
Another issue that is troublesome is people want to quickly understand the issue of the day. They build a narrative to whatever comes up and seek to affirm their opinion. Psychologically, people want to be affirmed and, these days, being affirmed has never been easier. When I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, we had Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings. Now, we have hundreds of anchors, thousands of pundits, millions of opinions on social media, and me.
The fact is that we have major challenges. We have brand new challenges with regards to the coronavirus. We have underlying societal issues. No one will ever have all the answers. All we know is that we have people in pain and we have to start listening to each other and working together!
As a disabled person, I deal with unbelievable emotional challenges and I deal with them by trying to build an amazing life. I express myself through my writing. Nevertheless, my disability sometimes punches me in the gut. When I talk to somebody about my challenges, I often get reactions such as “it’s not so bad” or “everyone goes through challenges” or “life is tough for everyone.” I admit that even I don’t fully understand what it means to be physically challenged; so, how could anyone else? Or I get the opposite reaction. People want me to get mad at my disability. They want me to act like a victim and play a victim. This attitude does not further my mission to create an amazing life.
I never went hungry. I never experienced racism. I never was harassed by the cops. I will probably never experience these things. I can only assume what these issues are like. I’m not going to pretend that I’m going to fully grasp these issues when I don’t even have a full picture of my own life.
Where do we go? Instead of pretending to fully understand, try to understand what you can do to improve life of the people in your community, your state, and your country. When I talk about my disability, I want people to just listen and empathize. I don’t need them to empathize with every issue. I just want them to empathize with the human experience. Beyond that, I want others to engage with me so we can both a better life together. I don’t expect others to fix every single issue.
When facing challenges, whether it be societal, personal, or those belonging to others, it’s important to take into consideration the human experience. Our ability to empathize allows us to work together to achieve a common good.