Humans naturally have to codify and categorize, but what this has meant throughout time is that we inherently seek to leverage our beliefs as a way to divide, exclude and separate. We avoid opportunities to connect, build bridges, educate and serve, because it is difficult to do so. We use selective exposure and confirmation bias to remove ourselves from groups where the prevailing views are different from ours. We don't enter in from a place of empathy.
As I was kicking around some of the initial ideas that have now become the framework for #4YOS, I talked to my mom about sensemaking in a world overrun by hate. I was terrified of many of the implications of this idea, including the prospect of opening up discourse with folks that couldn’t see my side. I was also scared of discrediting the fight of many of my friends seeking to fuel their anger as a means of attacking discrimination, prejudice and hate. I didn’t want to invalidate anyone’s response, but I wanted to make sure that my own response was focused on championing respect, and that that wasn’t lost in the shuffle. What I really wanted to do was to create safe spaces similar to the one my sister and I grew up in - spaces dedicated to all of the people living in fear. Feeling confused and frightened over the formidable challenge ahead of me (and ahead of all of us assembled here), my mom simplified it for me in the brilliant way that she always had in the past - "We're doing this because it is the right thing to do."
Since the beginning of time, there has never been enough good present in the world. But conversely, and thankfully, good has always existed. As one who has lived the majority of her life without fear, without hate in her heart, I dedicate my four years of service to making sure that others have the opportunity to live their lives outside of fear and hatred. When they close the book on my life, I want it to be known that I was one of the people trying to add to the good, even in times where it has seemed wholly absent.