By Felicia Pizana
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” He could not have said it better because, as we live in this ever-changing world, we should look at ourselves to consider who we proclaim to be.
Are we sitting back in silence as discrimination, injustices, bullying practices, illegalities, ineptitude, crime, mental illness and a lack of integrity overwhelmingly grip the hearts and minds of our community? Does criticism, apprehension of a big paycheck decrease, or fear of losing position and popularity drive our decisions?
The systematic process to undermine vulnerable populations, devalue education, promote fundamental disparities, increase barriers, and remove organizational safeguards prove to be counterproductive, to say the least, as fear increases continually.
Fear is defined as “an intensely unpleasant emotion in response to perceiving or recognizing a danger or threat.” Fear-driven mindsets are prone to yield to erroneous decision-making, extreme compromise of integrity and pretentious efforts.
The decision to live through a fear-driven mindset can create foundational flaws and unnecessary barriers. A fear-driven perspective can denote a propensity to create chaos, dismay, and division, intentionally or unintentionally.
Our youth are among the most vulnerable. In dealing with uncertainties, inconsistent cultural values and educational expectations, including negative social media images, the stress of it all can be mentally taxing.
This is quite a bit to digest at once, which is why a periodic self-check is necessary. In Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings,” she writes, “a needs of a society determines ethics,” now ponder that. Our tendency to move toward or away from the true needs of our society will determine the trajectory of our notion to either be ethical or unethical.
In other words, our consciences will either be our guide or another means to justify irrationality. Interestingly enough, whatever we decide to do or not do will determine exactly what we are willing to become when it’s all said and done.
The very essence of our being will hold on to what we are willing to accept. Are we willing to fight for the needs of our society, or will we compromise principles? Can we stand firm when everything we believe is tested, challenged or criticized? Although we all have limitations, we can strongly reflect and consider what we can do. What, then, could be done?
We may consider challenging the status quo and all suggestions to compromise the truth, our values, faith and sense of self-worth while understanding money, immorality or man cannot buy our souls out of destruction’s grip if we fail to do so.
Lastly, we could respectfully challenge ourselves. We could work toward viable solutions ongoingly as we look to understand the problems we face. We could diversify funding streams, leverage partnerships, and provide adequate training.
We could engage our youth on multiple levels, individually and collaboratively, to provide a positive impact. There are so many ways to be effective, steadfast, and unmovable, but now is the time to do just that.
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