Doesn't it seem that every day these days is an awareness day? Each single day is devoted to supporting everything from "Persian Cat Rescues" to "Save the Crushed Geode" to "Happy Rob Ford Day!" (please tell me the last one is most defintely made up!)
Is it just me, or do others get kind of worn out on awareness?
For example, today is:
- World Down's Syndrome Day
- World Poetry Day, and
- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
3 really big and worthy issues that deserve our time and attention. But if we hop from awareness day to awareness day, desiring to support every cause that moves our hearts we will die of a massive collective cornea. I'm saying this with all due respect to every worthy cause out there and the people involved. Because as an abolitionist I want people to become aware of national and international human trafficking awareness days… or days bring awareness to the commitment to end sexual violence… or days celebrating freedom from slavery…
… but we can't celebrate it all.
Here are some pointers I've found helpful for me in terms of devoting my time and attention to worthy causes:
- stay focused on God. Ugh, doesn't that sound trite? But it couldn't be less so. If you're focusing on causes without a deeper focus on God as your strength and source, you will find yourself quickly losing steam. Scattered, you'll wonder "Why the heck do I care again?" Find your deepest Source & stay put.
- be positive about the causes you do care about, continually become more informed about them, and never forget that it's people at the heart of these causes
- begin to find threads between causes you support and causes other people care about. For example, World Down's Syndrome Day and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is CRUCIAL to my awareness of all things human trafficking. Two of the most vulnerable groups trafficked into and within Canada are people with mental delays or disabilities, and ethnic minority groups (particularly Aboriginal and Asian groups). It would benefit all invested in human trafficking issues to learn about why others are so passionate about getting the world's attention about Down's Syndrome or about ending racism.
- if most of my time is taken up with human trafficking issues, I'll drop a positive comment, note or photo on other people's pages or emails. A little goes a long way! Let them know you're praying for them and that you care very much about their passions and people (geniunely so; not just because you want them to care about your issues back!). Maybe make an anonymous donation. Take the time to let them know they HAVE made a difference.
- if someone is begging my time or attention to a cause that I, perhaps, don't have listed as a high priority, it's 100% OK to respectfully and politely decline. I don't really like it when people decline me, but I know we can't all rush around being aware of the entirety of our universe! It's okay to say "No thanks".
- I pace myself. This year I might feel led to share about World Down's Syndrome Day for deeply personal reasons and, while it will remain personal to me, I might be led to focus elsewhere next year (month, week, day).
- I back off. Don't be afraid. Sometimes a Friday needs to be just a Friday. Don't feel guilty if you can't put out anymore awareness than you already have. Time to return focus back to God.
And in all things be polite and understanding. I know there are some causes out there that appear to me simply maddening. Excuse me, why was it so important Pamela Lee strip down for PETA again? But I know people for whom these baffling causes are important, and (remembering the people are more important than the causes), I chose to remain as compassionate as possible. I'm not always successful. No buts.
I'm not always successful.
And I do disagree with some causes out there. And that's okay.
In light of that, I raise a glass to World Down Syndrome Day/World Poetry Day/International Day for the Elimination of Racism by sharing a poem by one of my favourite poets, Suheir Hammad, & a video with you of Jean Vanier, founder of the beautiful L'Arche Communities.
4:02 p.m. – Suheir Hammad
poem supposed to be about
one minute and the lives of three women in it
writing it and up
the block a woman killed
by her husband
poem now about one minute
and the lives of four women
she walks through
town carrying her son's
head—banging it against
her thigh calling out
creole come see, see what
they've done to my flesh
holds on to him grip tight
through hair wool
his head all that's
left of her
she folds pay up into stocking
washes his european semen
off her head
hands her heart to god
and this month's rent to mother
sings berber the gold
haired one favored me, rode
and ripped my flesh, i now
have food to eat
stumbles—streets ragged under sneakers
she carries her heart
banged up against
thighs crying ghetto
look, look what's been done with
my flesh, my trust, humanity,
somebody tell me