the truth we all know

stronger together


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June 18, 2020 Angela Barnett

All through lockdown, when we would peek out at the world on social media to see how other countries were getting on and it was so devastating we’d go back to getting aggravated about the volume of our partners’ typing, we had fear and uncertainty but we also had that magic of human beliefs: dumb hope.

We were hopeful because it felt like we were going through a major reset. Outside, we could hear our planet sighing with relief that the humans were finally taking it easy. There were hardly any cars. Everything shut down. The birdsong was the loudest thing on our streets and it was so very quiet. There were no longer hundreds of thousands of people all wasting their precious time sitting in traffic trying to get to the same place in the city at the same time every day. We had smartened up to that hoax. We had figured out how to work remotely, working around our kids and whānau and homes and lives. Companies who had been talking about remote working for a decade had figured it out in three days. It was phenomenal to see how fast we could change when it was life threatening. We felt proud of our ability to adapt, to really listen, when we had to. Look at us chasing Covid out of our country we cried (OK so we screwed up with those two new cases but stick with me)!

We saw how many courageous humans were prepared to work on the front line to protect the rest of us. It was remarkable. Amazing. Awe inspiring. We were finally progressive, adaptable beings because we were doing it. We were all changing our behaviour for the greater good. And in the near future we hoped we would actually look after the earth we all owe our lives to because we had seen how important it was; we had witnessed how we could live more simply, more respectfully, with less noise and rush and more time for the people and things that matter to us. It was palpable.

We weren’t going to be the stupid humans doing the same ridiculous things every day because we had seen another way.

Post lockdown, on the first few days we had to venture out to work or school or visit people outside our bubbles we were all devastated by the traffic. It was just as it always had been and in a matter of days it felt like we were back to the status quo, rushing back to our old lives. Back to KFC. Where was our reset button? Didn’t we just sit up and realise something about our planet and how we treat it?

We did.

And there is a reset happening but it’s different to the one many of us were expecting. The reset is not to do with the earth we all rely on to survive but our humanity and how we treat each other.

Across the globe we are talking about racism from country to country, from feed to feed, having to face what happens when ‘othering’ goes on. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s inhumane and it’s everywhere. Racism, ableism, genderism. We’re not as woke as we want to believe.

But perhaps this is the full reboot we all needed; we have to care about each other first. This is our time right now to understand how we treat each other is everything. There’s no hope for our planet if we can’t get this right first.

And, like the companies who talked about remote working for far too long but didn’t action it until they were forced to, diversity is needed across everything from our streets, to our meetings, to our governance to our feeds. The only way to see other perspectives is to be around those with them. Anyone with white privilege, or any kind of privilege, can begin with some serious listening and looking around every room they walk into and looking for diversity. If you don’t see it, ask why. Ask who’s voices and opinions are missing. Ask who can help change it.

Fixing racism feels like an incredibly hard thing but looking for diversity is not hard. It’s actually enriching. It makes our streets and our meetings and our businesses and gatherings and decisions better. Diversity is a really good thing for all of us, it makes our lives better. Richer. And it makes us kinder because we can’t help but see other perspectives.

Change comes from asking the right questions and having hope that it’s possible.

We know we can survive pandemics, mosque shootings, suffering and pain by coming together and seeing each other as humans, by refusing to ‘other’, by treating each other with respect and kindness and seriously good listening. And we can change really bloody quickly when we want to. And right now, we need to. This is what we can all hope for.

As Martin Luther said,

'Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.’

Ruby Jones' Time cover is a great reminder of the truth we all know: stronger together.

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