As an alternative to outrage, pontification, indignation, I like to check myself. Before I tell others how they should feel and think and behave I check myself. Where do I have direct power and influence over people and resources – are all my practices there in line with my beliefs about love, respect and inclusiveness? Am I practicing my beliefs about “no invisible people” or do I still think we can write off some people and move forward without them. When I look at how I allocate my resources of time and money and attention, where are they going? When I have a gathering of close friends, when I make a list of people whose advice and guidance I follow, is that list representative of the larger community I live in, or is it mostly people who look like me and believe as I do? How many institutions do I support that still exclude – either deliberately or in practice – whole categories of humans? Am I comfortable supporting exclusive groups? When I am criticized or attacked by people not like me, do I slam the door? Or try to understand? Am I comfortable with all the doors I’ve closed? Do I examine my visceral distaste for certain people and behaviors? Is it because I know or fear that at my worst, I might behave the same way? Or maybe I have? When I say “we’re all in the same boat” did I really mean “all” or just for now until I can get away from you, or toss you and your beliefs overboard?
There’s always a bandwagon to ride. Headlines in abundance to capitalize upon. Someone who has, in my opinion, behaved far worse than I ever have – but I am responsible for me. For my actions. For whether or not I add to or subtract from the unnecessary suffering in the world.
Just remember – before climbing on soapboxes or bandwagons, check yourself. We need to earn our soapboxes and bandwagons.