Social justice takes many voices

Winnipeggers must come together for change

Many of us are asking what we can do to make a difference in our communities, cities, countries and the world. On one hand we understand that we need to connect with one another. But we also know we need to act – whether that means standing up to policies that create unnecessary suffering, or starting a movement that creates awareness and uplifts communities.

This year, Oct. 10 marked the 20 year anniversary of The Million Man March. The first march was held in 1995, to bring attention to issues faced by Black Americans. 

Organizers held a march in Washington, D.C., on the anniversary that attracted individuals from all over America. This year’s march was a en masse gathering of ethnic American men and women. 

The anniversary event was led by minister Louis Farrakhan, who called upon people from all nations and all walks of life to say “no more” to the injustices sweeping the country.

Native Americans, Latinos, African Americans, Palestinians and Caucasians, among others, came by the thousands. The event included prayers, rituals, and speakers from across all nations, who connected the injustices many Americans face based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, or belief systems.

The event was known in part by its slogan #JusticeOrElse, referring to other more serious actions and steps that will be taken if injustice continue.

However, those actions need to come from a place of spiritual wisdom that recognizes that there is a deep and powerful process taking place. In other words, there is something profound about taking action to bring change, knowing that there is a possibility for a difference, and being surrounded by others who carry those same intentions.

Winnipeg has had many different types of protests and socially conscious gatherings in the past year. They have focussed on issues relating to missing and murdered indigenous women, the march against Monsanto, Idle No More and David Suzuki’s national Blue Dot Movement, which creates awareness about environmental change.

The disappointing aspect about all these movements is how few people show up to participate. It is important that we understand that when we fight for social justice together as community, we are in many ways connected to the communities in Washington, and other places around the world, who are fighting for the same injustices.

We live in the time of information. Whether that be from mainstream media or social media, we all have an understanding that drastic changes need to be made. But as the 14th Dalai Lama stated, “It is not enough to be compassionate, one must act.”

At times we may feel helplessness, as if there is nothing any of us can do to make a difference. When we feel this, it is essential to recognize that coming together and connecting on scale as massive as the Million Man March reveals a deeper process that allows us to be able to share our experiences, and similarities with each other. Our collective awareness and ability to affect change increases, making us more empowered actors that can literally change the world.

Adeline Bird is the host and founder of a web series, podcast and vlog called Style & Soul.

Published in Volume 70, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 19, 2015)

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