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Finding peace in the wake of tragedy

Ann Kurian
Connector Contributor

As of late, it seems the world is throwing us unexpected events each and everyday. From the recent school shootings to the deportation threats to our country’s Dreamers, pain is always surrounding us. It is hard to live in our society and not loose faith in humanity.

So how do we find peace and move forward after tragedy has struck? We stand up and let our voices be heard. We have to find the strength to let the pain and loss motivate us to fight for a better tomorrow, to fight for a better future.

Individually, we may feel like small in this big universe and it may feel like there is not much we can do, but that is where we are mistaken. Together, we are resilient, and our voices are loud. We have the power to make big changes in the world. We have the power to make a better world possible.

One of the greatest feelings a person can feel is finding it within themselves to emerge from the shadows of the sidelines and fight for an issue they are passionate about. Big or small, there are many ways you too can get up and let your voice be heard:

Educate yourself. Before you get involved in any movement, make sure you understand what the cause is ¬– and what it is trying to achieve. Whether you are interested in climate change or racial injustice, learn the issue’s key facts and understand the movement’s mission and beliefs. Do this by visiting the movement’s official websites, reading books and articles about topics discussed, or even take a course that teaches you more about the cause.

Work on your own habits and beliefs. Make sure you are doing your very best not to contribute to the problem at hand. For example, no good will come if you just complain about how plastic is bad for the environment but do not practice recycling yourself. You have to first unlearn bad habits and behaviors yourself before you encourage others to be better. Start small and eliminate hate words and become more mindful of the words you use in conversation or when describing members of different social groups and speak up and be a better ally to those in need.

Research the local presence.  Whatever the issue is you are passionate about, chances are other people believe in it also. Local activist groups often hold open meetings and welcome anyone who is looking to get involved. UMass Lowell has a handful of clubs and organizations, such as MassPIRG, the Climate Change Coalition and the Navigators Club, that advocate and promote social justice. It is important to build connections with other like-minded individuals because it is where experiences are shared and new ideas are born.

Volunteer your time. When you ask any non-profit organization or campaign what keeps them going the answer will always be volunteers. Volunteers are single handedly the most important part of any demonstration. Whether you are canvassing or petition signing, the time and effort you put into volunteering can do a whole lot of good.  Just a few hours a day or week can make a significant impact and improve the lives of those affected by the exact injustice your movement is fighting against.

Take action locally. Individuals who want to get involved in any social justice movement can do the most effective work right in their own communities. Whether that be through donations writing letters to your elected officials or even just spreading awareness of local during lunch with your friends, there are many ways to take action now. Keeping social justice topics as part of public conversation is essential to creating change.

Take part in a demonstration or protest. This can be a very big step for most people, so make it less intimidating and bring your friends. Make signs or print out flyers and inform and educate other – this is the time you get to put your knowledge to action. Getting out there and seeing all of these people care so deeply about something that you care about will show you that you are not alone it will make you see that hope is surly alive and well.

Remember when we work together, we can make big changes in the world. Do not give and keep persevering for a better tomorrow. Our voices will be heard.

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