This past month many people have felt loss. We at Canisius suffer from the murder of a beloved first year student, Victoria Brooks, over Thanksgiving break. Others have felt loss because they feared that the result of this year’s Presidential Election echoes an assent to values that are contrary to some of the Jesuit values that we share here as a school. Bigotry, sexism and violence have resulted in some corners of the country and it has made many feel unsafe and to say the least, disconcerting over the future of our country.
Many people, including myself, have found themselves asking one big question: Where do we go from here?
The answer to this question is not easy. And it is going to be a little different for each person. But what matter’s is that EVERYONE does their part.
After the election I had found myself in quite a bit of a funk, and to be completely honest I still am to some extent. But what I really learned from all that has happened- the election, the hate crimes, the violence- is that we need to Be the Change.
A few weeks ago I, and a group of my fellow Canisius students and faculty, traveled to Washington, DC for the Ignatian Family Teach-In. I felt anxious going to DC on the weekend after the election but I knew God was on my side and so I jumped out of my comfort zone and into something really, truly incredible.
A huge topic at this conference was what to do with the results of the election. With priorities like Immigration Reform and Criminal Justice on the docket, people were concerned that these issues may not be priorities of the next Presidential administration. Meeting with these people who all had the same common goals really assured my faith in both humanity and in the future of our country.
I learned, at this conference, just how important it really is for us to take all the bad in our lives and turn it into something we can be proud of. It is so easy to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves, but it is so much more fulfilling to instead take that anger and run with it. We need to take all of our anger at the world and make everyone else angry for the same reasons.
And so now, to cut to the chase, I have a few jobs for each person reading this.
- NEVER sell yourself short. NEVER EVER tell yourself that you can’t make a difference- even if you can’t change the whole world, you can certainly change someone’s world, for at least a couple hours. (Side Note: You can also totally change the whole world, if you try hard enough.)
- Advocacy is almost as important as action! Don’t let some Facebook troll from high school make you feel stupid for sharing your opinions online- no one can care about anything they don’t know about, and you are their bridge to knowing about all that is happening in the world.
- Action is still very important! Especially in this day and age! If you live in Buffalo then you know there are literally THOUSANDS of non-profits providing so many services to the poor, the marginalized, and the helpless. (And if you don’t live in Buffalo, I am SURE you can find an organization to partner with and make a difference at!) Go out and Be the Change! I know you are probably busy and I know finals week is slowly approaching but Being the Change can be as simple as picking a tag off your local Angel Tree and buying some toys for kids who really need them. And if you are blessed enough to have the free time, go out and do some hands-on work with a local agency! Non-Profits need all the help they can get.
- And finally, DON’T.GIVE.UP. Keep going. Keep believing in yourself, in your peers, and in your country. Work on better understanding people and why their opinions might differ and then EDUCATE THEM. Work for justice. Work for what is right. And never forget that “We are from Love, We are of Love, We are for Love”.