In honor of Human Rights Day, I wanted to post this piece I wrote a while back. We are all different, but we will never make change unless we act as one. Take a stand for what you believe in. Never let evil win. YOU can make a difference, no matter how small or insignificant you feel. No issue is ever too big. WE can tackle anything when we stand together.

Passive. We’re being passive. What does it mean to be passive?  The dictionary defines it as “accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.”

To me, being passive means being weak. It means sitting idly by while our surroundings, and our society, and our culture crumble and deteriorate. We’re being passive. We’re being weak, idle, watching all we’ve worked for as a society, as a culture, waste away. We’re being careless.

We’re being passive. We see, yet we don’t do. We see, we feel, we hear, we experience. We’re even affected. But that’s not enough. We’re targeted, we’re blamed, we’re discriminated against, and it’s still not enough. Not enough to get us out of our seats and acting.

We’re being passive, not active, no matter who hurts us, no matter who encourages us. We’re not listening. We hear, yet we don’t listen. In one ear and out the other. No matter how powerful the words are, they just don’t stick.

It doesn’t matter who it is. Whether it’s you, or her, or him, or them. It doesn’t matter who it is; it still affects each and everyone of us. Even if it’s not direct, it still affects us. Why does it affect us? Because we’re so deeply intertwined. That’s who we are.

We’ve worked so hard to become interconnected and interdependent and united. We were once separated and distant and detached. It took people being active to get where we are now. It only takes people being passive to reverse it, to fall back to the point in which so many people worked to change. We can’t let all that progress regress.

We are white, we are black, we are brown, we are yellow, we are purple. We are men, we are women, we are neither, we are both. We are Muslim, we are Christian, we are Jewish, we are none of the above. We are heterosexual, we are homosexual, we are bisexual, we are pansexual, we are asexual, we are none of the above. We see, we feel, we hear, we experience together. We are united, intertwined, interdependent, interconnected, therefore, we are affected as one entity. No matter who we are, we are one. Whether it’s an event or an attack or just societal circumstances, it impacts us all.

We’re selfish, we’re ignorant. We turn a blind eye. We’re refusing to see that what happens to others happens to each and every one of us. An attack on a gay night club. A gender wage gap. Police brutality. Racist and sexist remarks made by presidential candidates, politicians, celebrities. We’re all part of that. We’re not superior to these issues even if we’re not the ones being targeted.

Even when we are the ones being targeted, we don’t care. We’re insignificant, it’s unimportant, we’ve accepted life as it is. We don’t have to, though. We don’t have to let life just be. In fact, we can’t let life just be. We have to make change. For ourselves. For others.

We rely on others to be active. We tell ourselves that it is someone else’s job; someone else will do it. We tell ourselves that it’s not our responsibility and we’re insignificant. The people being active will keep being active. But they have no chance of making progress without a strong foundation, without the help of many others.

Change is impossible, unimaginable, inconceivable, unattainable, hopeless without us. Change is impossible, unimaginable, inconceivable, unattainable, hopeless until we change. For change to be made in our surroundings, in our society, in our culture, WE must change first. We must change our passivity into activity. We must trade in our TV remotes for fists. We must turn off the news and instead become the news.

It impacts us all. We can’t be passive. We can’t be weak. We can’t be idle. We have to be active. To make change. For ourselves. For others.

Lainey Shapiro

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