I was en route home from a badass vacay in the New Mexico desert when my flight got diverted. Something about a storm and not having enough fuel to wait it out – I’m not sure. All I know is somewhere between Alburquerque and Houston my plane made a pit stop and thus made me miss my connection home.
It was extremely frustrating. And the United staff were all extremely unhelpful. And with hoards of people who also missed their flights and were being told they couldn’t fly out for another 10 hours, the mood in Terminal B was extremely grim. I myself was pretty distressed, using the airport wifi for the sole purpose of complaining via iMessage – to literally anyone who would listen – how miserable I was.
Yes, my tiny little life was inconvenienced (albeit fairly significantly) for a solid, 12-14 hours. But we were in Texas, stuck in a city that had been under water – immersed in Hurricane Harvey – for what, three weeks? And that’s the thing that hit home for me – I didn’t even really know what happened. It was so distant from my own life that sure, I read about it. I knew it was a thing. I knew Sandra Bullock donated a million dollars towards relief efforts and I watched that newscast where the reporter saves that guy stuck in his transport truck. But beyond that, I had no idea what had actually happened. How many people died. How many lives changed.
As my Uber driver drove me toward the hotel I would unexpectedly be staying at, he told me that his sister lost everything – that she was sleeping on his couch with literally nothing to her name. His best friend’s family of four had been stranded on top of their car for FIVE HOURS while they waited for someone to swing by and rescue them.
In a city that was rebuilding itself, who was I to be that down & out about my annoying little setback?
And in this moment I felt that this, THIS, is the problem with the world right now (well, maybe not THE problem. There are a lot of problems with the world right now that span far beyond what I know how to talk about. But this is one of them): WE ARE SO FUCKING SELF-ABSORBED.
We’re all willing to take a stand; to prove that HEY LOOK AT ME, I’m a good person! But when it comes down to it, we’re not willing to change our own life; to inconvenience ourselves. We’re not actually willing to be kinder, better people.
Sure, we’ll march; we’ll fight back. We’ll write ‘pussy power’ on a poster and stand with our sisters. We’ll sign a petition and lament to our friends about how sad we feel about the world. We’ll change our profile pictures with the newest filter to prove that we have values and beliefs and are supportive of a cause. We’ll #PrayForParis.
We’re all for coming together in moments that require a stance. And that’s great! That’s powerful and beautiful and necessary. And I do believe it can make a difference.
But how many people tweeted #LoveIsLove and then bitched out their barista for getting their order wrong? Belittled a stranger to make themselves feel better? How many people prayed for these storm victims and then screamed at someone in an airport because they missed their connection home?
We all sit at home, scrolling through our Insta feeds of perfectly placed coffee mugs and salad bowls. We sit there comfortably, judging her outfit in that pic she posted and bailing on dinner plans while our Netflix subscription drones on in the background. We sit there, doing nothing until the world tells us we’re supposed to. Until Trump says something stupid and we all jump up, shaking our fists and publicly proclaiming that #LoveTrumpsHate, baby! Look at us! We’re part of something! We’re fighting for a better world.
But we never change.
I don’t know, imagine everyone actually stopped buying takeaway coffees in non-disposable paper cups? Don’t you think that waste reduction might actually make a bit of an impact? But no one’s going to, because no one can be bothered, and how do you Instagram that moment? It’s way easier to snap a pic of you and your #ClimateChange poster (which, by the way, you’re probably going to stuff in an overflowing garbage can on your way to the train shortly after) and write a post about how we need to start taking this issue seriously, damnit! It’s way easier to take a stand than to change.
Imagine we actually supported each other instead of fiercely competing for the faster promo, the bigger home, the cooler life? Imagine we selflessly helped each other #slay during moments outside of International Women’s Day?
We’re all willing to prove a point, but none of us are willing to make sacrifices when it directly impacts our individual, small life.
So sure, keep fighting. Keep making signs and marching for a cause.
But it shouldn’t (it can’t) be just about that.
Because it’s also the way we recycle; the way we donate to charities outside of what’s Facebook shareable, or go out of our way to invite the newbie to after work drinks. The way we still smile at the customer service rep who’s telling us we can’t fly home tonight because believe it or not, it’s really really not the end of the world. We can’t consider ourselves activists; fighters and believers and good people and then forget about the moments in between. Let’s shut up for once and listen to each other. Ask questions. Take shorter showers and have longer conversations. Let’s pray for people for reasons beyond a trending hashtag. Let’s not wait until another Trump; another bad interview or bad marketing ploy causes us to stand with the masses and say something.
Let’s start fighting back through the way we actually fucking live.