Taking Action

“What Can I Actually Do?” The Lack of Ways to Take Action Presented in News Articles

Scrolling through the news can send one into a spiral of doubt, depression, and hopelessness. Headlines detail problem after problem, tragic event after tragic event. After reading an article about the newest bigoted law, another hate crime, details on how the world is ending due to climate change, a war, or a school shooting, you’re bound to feel a rush of negative emotions, and it’s only natural to want to do something with those emotions. Problems arise when nothing can be done, when you have to just sit there with this sick sense of hopelessness and wonder why the question, “What can I actually do?” was never answered.

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The Power of Being Able to Say, “I Don’t Know.”

People are so afraid to admit that they don’t know things that they would rather pretend to know all about issues they’ve never experienced than to listen or read about or make any effort to actually learn about. They’re caught in this lie that they already know enough to be the perfect ally to marginalized communities, and they jump at the opportunity to show these communities how much they know, how wonderful they are, and how much better they are than other people who don’t care. They think that the fact that they care means that they are going above and beyond simply because most people don’t. They think that they don’t need to learn more. In reality, nobody knows enough to be perfect. It takes a lifetime of listening and learning, but many people would rather share their social justice Instagram infographics, post headlines without reading the articles, and assume that they’re doing more than enough because there are people who actively oppose the causes that they comfortably support from a distance.

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Don’t Be Sorry. Be Better.

For some people, apologizing is hard. For others, it’s a reflex. Both of these can be very unhealthy. If you find that you frequently beat yourself up for your mistakes, apologize over and over again, feel guilt more strongly than remorse, or continue to make the same mistakes again, this is probably advice that you need to hear.

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What Does it Mean to Be an Ally?

“I know I don’t understand, but I’m here if you need anything.” A friend of mine said this to me the other day regarding antisemitism. I had never heard somebody say that. I had heard people compare my experiences to their own, I had seen people look at me with pity and confusion and discomfort, and I had heard people tell me to just stop talking about it. They didn’t understand it, and they didn’t want me to talk about being Jewish around them because of that. I had never heard someone say they knew that they didn’t understand, but they were there to listen. Plain and simple. To the point. That, to me, is part of being a good ally.

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