inde Be The Change – Kind Cotton

By Kaitlin Johnstone

Be The Change

Be the change you wish to see in the world. A phrase we often hear, but how frequently do you take action toward creating a space in which change can occur? Where do your values lie? Are you consistent within your actions? Kev and I recently purchased Jay Shetty’s book, Think Like a Monk (a must read if you haven’t already) and it has caused me to think a lot about what’s truly important to me.
What is at the root of happiness?
Is it buying the latest gadget you see online, or spending that money toward something you are passionate about?
Do your friends mean everything to you, yet the second you have to gossip about the latest scandal you do?
Is quality time with family at the top of your priority list, yet the moment you have free time, are you on your phone or choosing to spend your time in other ways?
Trust me I am hands down guilty of all of these, but I’d also like to think that I am making a conscious effort to create change within myself in hopes of cultivating change within our society. I’d like to think that we can live in a world in which our values are carefully thought out plans that shape what we do. Call me a dreamer, but I would hope that most peoples’ values do not center hate.
So how is it that we open our minds to change?
How do we help loved ones to see something that has never affected them before?
How can each of us take small steps forward to create a future that we are proud to be a part of?
I, of course can only speak for myself when discussing the change I wish to see. But I always hope that in sharing my thoughts there is a minuscule chance of shifting one mind. That very mind may be the one to create something big.
Many mornings I wake up thinking how have things gotten this bad? How can people utter the slogan Keep America Great, when America historically has not been great for most people? How, in the middle of a global pandemic, one in which over a million people have now died, can we possible fight over something as simple as doing something that has scientifically been proven to save lives? I could dig myself into a pretty deep hole if all I did each day was sit back and stress over the actions of others (which has happened many times throughout this year); however, there have also been moments of action. Moments where I have taken a deep internal look at my values and as opposed to wallowing in my sadness. I’ve chosen to take steps forward in loving the person who I’m becoming. My core values may not align with yours, but I’d like to share them below in hopes that any of us can instill small changes in one another because if we all sat around saying our voices didn’t matter and we can’t make a difference, nothing would ever change. Now, more than ever it is time to stand by our convictions.
Connections matter. Generating lasting friendships, romantic relationships, and bonds with family members are at the very core of my being. My friends used to tease that if you give me a rock, I would find a way to have a conversation with it. I have also considered myself a serial monogamist from the moment I shared my first kiss after hearing Julia Roberts proclaim “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Notting Hill was all it took for me to know one day, I too wanted to share a love that was all encompassing and although there were certainly some bad apples along the way, I am grateful to have found my Hugh Grant in Kev.
Recognizing the importance of this value, I have a hard time with technology.  Social media has become an interesting space for me, because in my time on Instagram I have developed online relationships that have turned into genuine friendships, but I also need to recognize the harm being connected to my phone can cause. If relationships are at the forefront of what matters most to you then take the time to put your phone down. How many times have you 'yes'd' your partner without having the slightest clue as to what was just said? How often do you pick up your phone to check a notification as opposed to picking up the phone to call a friend? When I was younger I lived for conversations with “BFFS” while listening to Lauren Hill and lighting all the candles I could get my hands on. I was deeply engaged in every moment. I was present. Millennials are in a unique situation in that we grew up prior to being addicted to technology, but we also understand the importance of it. I am not saying do away with it. If it were not for technology, we would not have our company. However, I do need to make a conscious effort to be in the moment. As a teacher, I have seen the dangers of not communicating, or communicating behind a screen. I want my daughter growing up being able to express herself and have a conversation. I want her to play outside and use her imagination. I want her to know that we will always be there for her to listen. I need to remind myself that we all individually have the power to instill change and I hope we all remember to take some time away from the screen to love what’s in front of us.
James Baldwin eloquently stated what is my other most important value; justice.  “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” I challenge any of you to use the counter argument anytime a white person in your life uses the good old, "let’s just agree to disagree" statement when discussing privilege. I am sure there are white friends and family members that are very tired of hearing me discuss race; however, I have come to the conclusion that racism is very much a white person’s problem to fix. White people have to continue these conversations with other white people in order to be the change we wish to see. If people still refuse to admit institutionalized racism exists and acknowledge the harm it causes by upholding a system in which white people win at the expense of Black people then you are very much a part of the problem.
However, my goal for the future is to continue to learn how to approach these conversations productively. How to plant seeds in hopes that maybe with plenty of water, over time, we can develop the roots necessary to move forward with these discussions. Some people may never want to hear what I have to say, but that will not keep me from using my voice. Nor will it stop me from raising my daughter from the start to be a co-conspirator in the fight against racism. She will grow to understand history and challenge systems. She will be kind because she will fight for justice. If justice is a value in your life, what action are you taking to dismantle white supremacy? What can you do each and every day to make sure you're continuing down a path to create a brighter future?
Our latest tee means a lot. It’s a reminder to myself that my values shape who I am and I, along with all of us have the power to be change agents. We just need to ensure that we keep pushing forward. We can’t simply wish to see a change, we need to BE THE CHANGE.


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