Through recent conversations I’ve come to the realization that much of my activism and way about going through the world, consist of trying to plant ideas, or seeds, in people. Particularly, I like to plant seeds whose roots can crack the foundations of oppression and bigotry. Seeds that are resilient and able to endure any kind of hell you throw at them.
Be it a casual passerby, an acquaintance, or a long time friend; I’m always trying to instill some kind of awareness in everyone I meet. I know that not every person will be willing to grow with me, I know that I could try and sew an entire fields world of people and only one seed will sprout; I still believe that in trying I can make a difference.
I truly believe in the power of ripples and doing small things that could lead into a much greater whole; one seed could pollinate an entire field with enough time, after all. To put it bluntly, every person is a potential place of growth. Even if you find yourself in a wasteland and only one little flower is growing, cultivate it, show it that you care and that you’re invested in it.
Much of my reasoning for seeing the world like this is because I always hear people asking ‘what can I do to make a difference?’ It happens after every tragedy, we feel powerless, we feel confused, and we feel alienated.
I personally experience these feelings after each and every instance of police brutality, church burning and institutional racism.
When you sit down and think about the enormity of institutional racism, and how it has affected nearly every aspect of your life, it can really shock you into just wanting to give up.
You can, of course, apply this to any and all other forms of oppression as well, with the main point being that these systems WANT you to stand still and be hopeless. From the top all the way to the very bottom, there is so much sadness and pain in the world, and that’s why I believe in the power of planting those seeds of idealism in people.
But this is why we can’t give up, there is always something you can do, no matter who you are. There is always a way to make change, activism isn’t just about taking to the streets and making noise. It’s those small conversations, it’s being yourself when you know other people wish you wouldn’t, it’s pragmatically flowing through any and all spaces and shining your light on others.
Those same seeds you’ve planted may need a little sunlight and nutrition to grow, and that’s where you come in. You never know who’s watching, you never know who’s listening, you have to believe in your ability to make waves, regardless of how futile you think it may seem. You yourself can be both the planter and the nutrients, there’s so many different ways to engage with people.
I will say, however, that you still need to be careful and that you still need to take care of yourself. It is possible to take care of others and still be able to take care of your own being, but you must remember that your mental and physical health come first. Take time for self care, take time to cultivate your own garden, you must understand how important survival is for yourself and others.
Some people you encounter will be toxic, some people will lash out at you, remember to be careful and remember to stay alert. Never be afraid to reach out either, and I say this as someone who goes in and out of being extremely social to hiding in my room for days on end. Connections, even if it’s just one person, can make a world’s difference in keeping yourself afloat.
So remember, no one person is a wasted effort if you can at least get them to sprout, and we must always remember that we’re all growing at different rates. Remember and believe in people’s ability to grow, even if you have to step away and let them do the growing on their own sometimes. It all starts with that one seed, and hey, you might even stumble upon some sprouts that just need a little attention, and you may meet someone who is just what you needed to continue growing. Watch those roots spread, watch those come up and grow around you, the effect is multiplicative and it all starts with you.