I know this is primarily a health and wellness blog. But it’s a platform, and as a person with an audience and representation on the internet, I feel I need to use it to share my thoughts about what’s going on in our world right now.
While I was blissfully running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon over the weekend, horrible things were going on in the southern United States. Horrible things are going on everywhere all the time to both humans, animals and the environment, but it seems geographical space and less media attention allows us to distance ourselves from it enough we can go on to live our lives, happily making our avocado toast and going to yoga class and farmers markets and such.
When I returned home from my Vancouver running weekend, I spent some time getting caught up on what was going on. And after watching this disturbing video on Facebook from VICE, I felt I had to get going on contributing something to the conversation. You see, as Chrissy King rightly pointed out on her blog, my “role as a fitness professional goes far beyond exercise and nutrition.” My goal is to aid my clients and audience with overall health and wellness, which includes emotional health and wellness. And as Chrissy points out, “you cannot simultaneously help women (and men) with their fitness and wellness while remaining silent on issues of racism and the events that occurred in Charlottesville this weekend. Unless of course, you are only here to serve white clientele. In that case, I guess you can.”
I want to believe people like the imbeciles who were featured in the video from VICE don’t exist anymore because we’re more enlightened, intelligent and empathetic as a species now in 2017 than were were a few hundred years ago. But we aren’t. And they DO exist. They exist even in my corner of the world, mainly hiding out behind computer screens since they live on Canada’s NDP-Green west coast, where all cultures and sexual orientations are widely and openly respected and embraced.
When I was watching the video, all I could think in absolute frustration and anger was why?? Why don’t these humans understand that we’re all from the same species?? That EVERYONE came from Africa??? That America was home to Native Americans first who migrated from Asia thousands of years ago? That even the whitest white people are a mix of European descent that probably includes Abkhazia Jewish and Iberian? That humans from Europe and Spain sailed on over to America and displaced Native Americans, changing their ways of life forever?
Is it because some humans have cultures and ways of life different from your own and that makes you confused and threatened? Is it because of some cultural myth or belief system you were told or misinterpreted? Is it because you are poorly educated and from a low income family and are looking for someone to blame? Is it because the United States has a complete moron and dangerous fool as a president?
It’s likely all of the above and more. According to Arie Kruglanski, an award-winning expert on radicalization and terrorism, there are three universal components that lead to radicalization, whether it’s neo-nazism or Islamic extremism: the quest for significance, a narrative serving as a vehicle for that significance, and a network of support.
“They all share the motivation to matter, to be somebody, to have respect and power,” Kruglanski said. “They all share across the board is that they are exposed to some narrative, some ideological narrative that tells them how they can be significant.”
I can’t help but think of the War Boys in the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, when they yell “Witness me!”, spraying chrome paint on their mouths moments before dying in battle, believing a brave and spectacular death is the only way to get to the mythical paradise of Valhalla in the next life. I don’t understand what these extremist groups are trying to achieve with their hate, but whatever significance they think it will bring them now or in a next life is simply unjustified.
Rational thinkers know this. But radical extremists are not rational thinkers.
Are we on our way to a dystopian apocalyptic world like that of Mad Max? Where our world is a harsh and desolate place void the diverse forms of life we have today, and any surviving humans are controlled by an ideology promising them a better life than the one they were born into?
Sadly, we probably are if we sit back and do nothing about it. Climate change, racism, sexism, factory farming, war, terrorism, nuclear missiles… let’s face it, we’re a big hot mess right now.
So what can we do?
We can read and learn about where the issues are stemming from and support groups fighting against racism and other forms of hate.
We can be lighthouses — standing tall in our truths and shining a beacon of light out to draw others towards us and our messages of peace and hope.
We can be kind, compassionate and empathetic, not just to other people but to the environment and animals as well.
We can take care of ourselves, taking the time to focus on our mental health and wellbeing.
We can share more open, loving and compassionate ideologies, such as those from yoga and Buddhism.
And most importantly, we can speak up about it. We can directly confront racism and any form of hate when we see or hear it.
I’m going to focus on doing all of these things. Here on the blog, through my other social media accounts and out in the world. I hope you will join me.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
So what are you going to do to help stop the madness and save our species and planet?