Seven years seems to have passed in the blink of an eye.
Admittedly, an eye frequently closed to the blogging world any more, though part of me still nurtures faint hopes of rejoining in a consistent way, at some point. [That said, as I opened WordPress to publish this piece, I realised my last piece was for six years of Thankful so…we shall see, but don’t lets any of us hold our breaths.]
Seven years in which my life has (thankfully) changed beyond recognition, and honestly, if I had told seven-years-ago me how things would be today, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. Thank goodness for change, our only constant.
Seven years in which the baton has passed from my hands into those of others who know the value of thankfulness, and who have the headspace, energy, and dedication to maintain this hop and its wonderful community.
Seven years since I was using ten things of thankful as a resurrected daily exercise to give me an incentive to stay alive; for that was my personal bargain with life – if I could find ten things each day to be thankful for, I would stay for the next day. That my little ritual gained such interest from those around me in the blogging community was bizarre and delightful. That it became a weekly tradition shown to endure the test of time has been nothing short of astonishing.
Even though I am on the very furthest periphery of the community now, I still feel I belong to it. I am still thankful for it, and get a warm glow when I see it mentioned, participated in, cherished. I am thankful for each and every person whose energy has gone into seeking the silver linings of life, and sharing them across this wonderful World Between the Wires.
Comforting as it would be to sink into a warm bath of thankfulness, *twinklysparklygoodness* and warm fuzzies, this week it feels not only myopic but a little disrespectful. The USA is erupting into violence as the police attack peaceful protesters, and the president is actively encouraging military involvement against his own people. The UK is being gaslighted by a government ignoring the science, and the protections of lockdown are dissolving around us as schools are set to reopen whilst hundreds of people are still dying each day. Palestinians are still losing homes and lives to Israeli soldiers, and in France, it seems everyone is rioting.
Much of the world is struggling, and those of us who have been relatively untouched as a result of our privilege, are gradually having our eyes opened to the hardships of those whose lives are a persistent struggle, sometimes purely for the right to exist. It is a time to be thankful, but it is also a time for action.
It is a time to be thankful for white privilege (for those to whom it applies) and to acknowledge how much easier our lives are made because of the colour of our skin. Whatever our hardships, we can know the colour of our skin will not be making it worse. It is a time to step out from the protection it affords us, and get real about the responsibility we have – to justice, to integrity, to humanity – to do tangible things in support, whether it be sharing information, challenging racism wherever we see it, donating to funds supporting the victims, and above all, examining ourselves and the way we live to see where we are complicit with a system that perpetuates such inequality and violence.
Now is a time when our silence and inaction labels us as part of the problem. Think, for a few moments (if you have white skin) about how people with black skins are treated. Or brown skins. Would you like to be treated like they are? I know I wouldn’t.
Nobody should live in fear because of their black or brown skin. Nobody should have their voice ignored, their feelings trampled, or their body hurt because of their black or brown skin. Nobody should lose their life because of their black or brown skin. And in the hundreds of thousands of incidents of racist aggression and microaggression that occur each day, white people are, if not actively carrying out these actions, at a minimum enmeshed in a system which allows and excuses them. I am part of it. I hate that I’m part of it, and I am learning how to fight it, which starts with acknowledging and understanding it.
Now is a time for action. As Desmond Tutu said – “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
And in the meantime, at a minimum, start learning if you haven’t already. And thank you for being part of a rebellion that hopes to bring in a new age of justice.
And honestly, on a lighter, brighter note (which is what this hop is meant to be, even in the darkest and most desolate of times), I am so glad that there are so many of us still bound together by our determination to find the good in life. Even, and perhaps especially, on days when it feels there isn’t enough good in the world to go round, finding little things we’re thankful for can be a balm.
My heart is full of thankfuls, far too many to list, and I am thankful for that in itself (which almost brings us to ol’ secret rule 1.3) but at the moment, they would be a distraction. My aim for the now is to highlight black voices over on Twitter, share resources for white people to learn from here and on Facebook, and to sign everything I can, and take part in ways that I can. But thank you for being part of this, even by reading. Seven years is no mean feat.