It’s NEVER just the way things are

When I was in high school I made it a point to never watch the news. Any desire that I had to hear about death and destruction or to stress myself out was easily satisfied by burying myself into a book where the damage was not real and the monsters were all made up. The way I saw it was that whether I was watching the news or not the things would still be happening and I just didn’t see the point in being scared by it. Ask any person who loves to read we’re the kind of people to get so wrapped up and emotionally involved in a book that it feels real in the moment and it hurts all the same. Don’t ask me why but I feel like that’s something that all of us do whenever we read a book or watch Netflix or reality TV shows. Let’s be real here, anyone who would tell me that they’ve never been emotionally scarred by a show on TV is either lying, dead inside, or they’ve never watched the shows on my Netflix page. But there is something very different between reading it in a fictional book and seeing on the news that somewhere in this world people are being terrorized, hurt, bullied, and abused. In this world, that I’m living in, that all of us are living in, real hatred exists and people are dying and hurting because of it.
I don’t want to hear about that happening in real life and I think it’s safe to say that nobody does. I don’t want to think that there are actually people in this world, my world, where people could even think to be so callous and so cruel to each other like that and as of lately there is nothing uplifting to be found within the news. I don’t want to think that those tweets and those news stories are about real people and that those people who spend their time writing hate comments and death threats and cyber bullying are out there. And I don’t want to imagine what those hateful words are doing to the human beings who are on the receiving end. Living, breathing, bleeding human beings who we don’t have the nerve to talk about in person instead of hiding behind the anonymity of the internet because it’s 2017 and we no longer have to look somebody in their face when we’re talking about them and destroying them with our words.
Right now, though I’m still burying myself inside fictional worlds, I am twenty-two years old and to some degree, I’ve found that maintaining my obliviousness isn’t an option. I literally cannot walk through my life without knowing what’s happening around me anymore. We get older and we get to a point in our lives when we just manage to find our own way in nurturing ourselves in a world that won’t do it for us. I was incredibly sheltered when I was growing up and blessed to have a family who loved me too much to want me seeing anything that would break my heart. Problem is, burying our heads in the sand is not the way that we were created to live and it’s just not the kind of person that I want to be anymore. I know more today about what’s on the news than I ever did when I was in high school on the debate team. I’m no longer so sheltered by my family that I don’t find myself in painful conversations about some really hard topics. So many times I find myself falling onto my knees with tears running down my face and praying for God to give me clarity and hope for mankind, to help me see people the way that he does and to believe that we were made for more than this. I’ve grown. And I truly believe that in so many ways I’m stronger than I ever was when I was pretending that these things weren’t happening and when I wouldn’t have even dared to write anything like this. And there’s one thing that I hear so many times that really, really, really makes me angry and makes me want to keep talking.
I freely admit that I’ve spent a large portion of my life avoiding this stuff and trying not to hear about it and I don’t know everything about it but to me the most patronizing and passive thing I’ve ever heard in a discussion is “that’s just the way things are.” Because when I turn on the news and see a story about a kid being bullied to death, hate crimes on a college campus, a woman being assaulted, raped, or killed, shootings within my own city, or whatever it is this time, I don’t want to hear that’s just the way things are because that’s not just the way things are. It’s just the way that things are going to be until we decide that’s not the way we want to live and we’re not going to just accept it as a permanent reality. But even more than that it’s a slap in the face to all the people who fought and bled and died to get us where we are today. There used to be a time when “just the way things are” meant slavery, segregation and Jim Crow, women not being able to vote, the Holocaust, nonexistent technology, no freedom of speech, no internet, no platform for me to be sitting here and writing these words to put out into the world. The way that things are today is not the way that things have been and it’s not the way that we are destined to be for the rest of our lives.
Whenever somebody says to me “that’s just the way things are”, all I hear them saying to me is to stop complaining about it and just accept it because there’s nothing that I or anyone can do to change it and that is the biggest insult to humanity that I have ever heard in my life. It’s a suggestion that we come in to this world and we’re doomed to be bullies, callous, hateful, prejudice and powerless. It’s just like when people say that boys will be boys. It’s an insult and nobody should be okay with having that be said about them. We are more than that. We are capable of more than that and we don’t have to accept this as a reality for ourselves or the people that we love. Accepting it, is just the easiest way out that we can think of because there is no easy answer. Accepting it is the only way we know how to shelter ourselves when we’re no longer children and being unaware isn’t an option. Genesis 1:26 says that we are all created in the image of God. What we’re doing now and how we’ve been living isn’t the way that we were ever meant to be. Indifferently and passively is not how we are supposed to live our lives and I refuse to just be accepting of what I see happening now.
Stop saying that’s just the way things are and start saying that it’s not okay. That we’re not okay with this. That we don’t want to live this way for the rest of our lives, terrified of the world, and it’s not what we want for our kids, our grandkids, and our great grandkids. Start saying that things need to change because it has to start somewhere and unless each of us decides to do something, nothing will ever change again.

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