It’s midnight, and while I would usually be tucked away in bed, dreaming of tomorrow, I am instead sitting on this couch; the glare of my laptop is in stark contrast to the darkness that has settled on the rest of the house.
I find myself restless. Tossing and turning after another Colbert monologue that expectedly delivers whatever sensational, ridiculous news Trump has made that day. It has become part of my nightly routine, in between washing my face and staring at the dark ceiling for an hour.
Although my neighbours to the south certainly don’t have it easy at the moment, my thoughts of late have been inward, and it has caused me to dive deeper into my own politics. Years ago, perhaps too recently, I didn’t give much thought to social issues. Sure, I voted, but if you had asked me about systemic racism, or how I thought city hall should be directing their funds, I most certainly wouldn’t have had an opinion on the topic.
Then, I did some soul searching.
I read the news. I took some classes. I discovered the vicious reality of biases. I witnessed the effects of racism. I saw people being unfair. I realized how ugly greed is. I learned how fear can cause the masses to follow blindly. I saw hurt. I saw people get kicked when they were down. I read of mob mentality. I learned that the fight for equality, one that I thought was long over, is so far behind that it may as well be one hundred years ago. I learned that ignorance really is bliss, and that knowing these things leaves a heavy weight on your chest.
I discovered things about myself, and they are opinions that I may not have had in the past, simply because I didn’t care to look; simply because life was okay for me, in my small, comfortable Albertan town.
The thing about having strong opinions on matters, whether it be about systematic racism, the trans community, or the roots of homelessness, is that if you speak loudly, without having gained any knowledge on the subject, you are speaking from a place of ignorance. You are speaking from your own narrow view on the matter, without giving thought to the perspective of anyone else.
We pick up biases as we navigate life. Whether they stem from personal experiences or learned experiences does not matter. To let go of ignorance, you have to come to term with your biases. When it comes to social issues, approach it as a blank canvas. Educate yourself on the issue. Find out why you feel the way that you do.
Humility is a gift. And it is a gift that will allow you to take pride in knowing that to change your views on social issues should not to be seen as weakness, but as a celebration of growth. If we are not fighting for equal rights, for everyone to have the same opportunities as others, and for freedom in it’s truest form, then what are we fighting for?
I’ll admit, I slept easier when I thought the world was a fair, happy place.
Change doesn’t stem from comfort.