By Dana Gornall
Voices seem to be growing more heated everyday.
Millions of women (and men) are preparing to march all over the United States in solidarity, and it’s right now that taking a moment before we speak, write, comment or act can make all the difference. Anytime the voice of one is united with the voice of many, a powerful impact is made. We have seen this over and over again throughout history. Think of the Vietnam war protests, think of the Civil Rights march, think of Suffrage and the push for women’s rights to vote.
There is no denying the power of a well-planned protest.
Yet, taking time to pause and reflect on why we are here, what we are doing, what we are saying and what result we want is more important now than ever. As we lift up that poster board with words written in all caps and pull out phones so that this moment can be instagrammed, consider a few things.
What is the reality of everything around us? What ideas are being protested? Have you looked at both sides of the issue before you stepped foot on this street? Do you understand the laws? Do you know your rights? Staying informed is necessary.
What is your intention? Is it to spread awareness? Is it to show solidarity? Is it to be a part of something bigger? Before you say, do or act, to understand where your intentions lie, reminds us all of why were are here.
Is what you are saying true? And if so, are you saying it with compassion in your heart? Are you being abusive? Words carry great weight, so male them count. Listen to those around you and then choose what you say carefully. Speak as though each word is sacred and as though everything you say has been printed in a bubble over your head. Holding your tongue can be difficult when others are challenging us, but silence at times (or minimal words) can carry more power.
Are your actions harming or benefiting others? It can be easy to get caught up in the momentum of the crowd and forget our ethics. A study was done of a group of seminary students. They were asked to give a sermon on being a good samaritan, and then on the way to the event to perform this sermon, they were presented with an opportunity to help someone in need. Most of the students did not help the person in need unless they felt unhurried or not rushed. When the students were more absorbed in themselves and the schedule they had to keep, they were less likely to help someone in need.
Give yourself time. Stop, pause and think.
Are you being honest? Are you staying sober? Are you eating healthy and keeping yourself hydrated? Are you throwing your trash everywhere and tossing plastic water bottles into the trash can? When my son was in boy scouts his leader always told the boys to leave a place cleaner than how it was when they found it. Remember you are representing a large crowd. Leave a strong and compassionate impression behind.
There is a reason we practice. Whether you workout, lift weights, go to yoga, meditate or do homework in school, practice is meant to train ourselves for something bigger. Complacency in practice leaves us unprepared for those times when when our strength is being asked to show itself.Cutting corners because we are trying to get to one specific destination, whether that be a physical place or an abstract goal can cause trouble and lead to poor decision making. Preparation is key and it is never too late to begin a practice. Take a few moments to depend your practice before heading to your event.
Mindfulness is not just posing for a selfie while sitting in a cross legged position. Mindfulness is not wearing a T-shirt with OM written on it or saying namaste. Mindfulness is being aware of your surroundings and focusing on what is here and now. Who are you surrounded by? Is your circle of friends supportive and kind? Are any of the people near you talking about violent actions? Are you safe? Be aware, stay focused and don’t get caught up in distractions.
Speaking of distractions, we live in a culture of distraction. Everywhere we go something or someone is vying for attention. While sharing what we are doing and showing support for a cause can have an amazing impact with social media, remember to put your phone down. Pay attention. Listen. You are not at a party you are at a protest. This is when you need all of your attention pointed toward the present.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
As you march, stand together in peace.