The heartbreaking moment when George Floyd uttered, “I can’t breathe” caused an indelible mark on our society. And then the protests began.
I can’t tell you, can I, to stop protesting, when I am fighting for equality along with you and millions of other people.
Discrimination must end. Racial injustice and treatment of blacks as we see in our police forces in cities and towns everywhere is a disease in our society that we must cure now.
The Black Lives Matter movement has grown far beyond the incident involving Trayvon Martin in 2003 and too many others.
As a global society, we are slow to change. People in other countries are protesting for BLM because they recognize discrimination and support solidarity. Everyone feels the pain. This discrimination is our dilemma here and now.
As a way to convey my feelings, through the grieving for George and others and the turmoil of BLM demonstrations, the lyrics of the song, Turn! Turn! Turn! came to mind. So this verse helped me find meaning and hope.
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing
Pete Seeger. Excerpted from Turn! Turn! Turn! To Everything There is a Season. The Birds. 1965.
Hopefully you’ll agree music is a unifying medium to help carry messages to the world. If we stop and ask ourselves, when will we ever learn, then our understanding of the problem is still at a root cause. The time to learn is now. Seeger’s interview with Daniel Sheehy, the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings director and curator shows us his intention. As Seeger had said, “This world has got to stick together, and music is one of the best ways to learn this.”
For a little background if you’re not familiar, the Turn! lyrics were written verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes of the Old Testament. Through a minor arrangement of words that enabled a beat to carry the message, so many recording artists have adapted the song since The Birds’ original creation over fifty years ago.
Although the root cause of discrimination predates us, still we have to draw the line. Change must happen. We can’t stand down but we must let change happen in a peaceful way. Whether we choose to believe or not, empowerment can facilitate change.
Each of us face this call to action. Seeking change for change itself is not enough. So how are we going to move forward then? These are some suggestions.
A Short Guide to Empowering Change
Empower yourself through love. Your message of love will give cause for change.
Empower yourself through education. In the classroom, help change our society. Ask many questions: ask why, or why not. Break the discrimination barriers not only for yourself, but for others who need help to break them.
Empower your family. Grow with love and dignity so that change becomes a part of who you are, an agent for change, creating higher standards for a respectful society where all race, age, or sex may not be discriminated upon.
Empower yourself at the polls. Vote only for politicians who will create the right justice system for everyone. Hold the politicians accountable as much as we are accountable for our own actions. Remember that protesting in a violent and illegal way hurts everyone. We have a right to peaceful protests, and no one can stop us.
Empower your conversations with your values. Show that you care, and others will care, too.
Empower yourself. Go peacefully. Everyone’s voice will be heard.