According to the latest United Nations estimates there are 7.8 billion people in the world. Of that 7.8 billion, 331 million people live in the United States. Of that 331 million, 11.73 million live in Ohio. Of that 331 million, 7425 live in my town, 31 work with me and 3 live in my home. That’s a lot of numbers for a Saturday afternoon. Each and every one of these people has their own unique story to tell.
As I stop at a red light, I glance over at the driver in the car next to me. She’s tapping her hand on the steering wheel to the beat of some music I can’t hear. I’m in the drive-thru picking up my prescriptions and the clerk tells me to have a good day. I take my dog for a walk and my eyes follow a runner as she darts around me. I wonder what their stories are. I’m confident each of these people have had a litany of ups and downs. Days when they laughed and days when they cried. As we interact with people in our lives, we have no way of knowing their back stories. But, just as you have a story, so do they and so does each and every one of the 7.8 billion people in this world. Each of us is unique and important. However, not all of us are treated as such.
This morning I cheered my middle-school daughter on as she ran across the finish line at her cross country meet. The clock showed 14:50 and she placed 13th out of 35 girls. Her smile beamed from her face. So did mine. She had blown away her personal record by almost two minutes and fulfilled her goal of finishing in the top 15 to get a medal. On the way home, she chattered about how proud she was of herself. I am proud of her too. She worked hard to improve her times. Yet as I drove along Route 6, I started to think about how hard work alone wasn’t the only thing that contributed to her reaching her goals. What do I mean? Yes, she worked hard and practiced, but she also has a wonderful coach that encourages her to push harder. She is from a family that can afford to buy her good running shoes. Her mother has a flexible job and is able to get her to and from practices. She doesn’t worry about what or if she’s going to have food today or where she’ll sleep tonight. When her knee started to bother her last season, we went to the doctor to have it looked at. All of these circumstances gave her the opportunity to work towards her goals. Otherwise, her story might be very different.
Thus, I am once again reminded that I am privileged. That’s not saying I don’t have any challenges in my story, I do. It means that my race, sexual orientation, gender identity and education level are not. Fighting for equity and social justice does not mean taking it away from others. We don’t have to keep others down to boast ourselves up. It is important to me that everyone has a chance to tell their stories and reach their full potentials. It is important to share our stories and to learn from the stories of others. Making a human connection instead of focusing on ourselves, sharing our stories inspires, helps us see we are more a like than different and that being different isn’t right or wrong, but what makes the world a better place. But just writing it and thinking it doesn’t make it happen though. What is my responsibility in helping to make that happen? For me, doing nothing is not an option. Here are some of the things I’m doing:
- Voting for candidates that value what I do (Early voting starts next week in Ohio!)
- Signing petitions to advocate for social justice issues
- Writing to my senators and representatives to make my opinions known
- Attending peaceful protests to bring awareness
- Listening to other people’s stories and reading books to educate myself
- Donating to organizations that support the causes I believe in
- Speaking up and writing about what’s important to me
- Finding like-minded people to connect with
What’s your story? What are you doing to bring more equity and justice to the world? Are you a like-minded person that wants to make a difference? I’d love to hear from you.