3 ways to find hope right now (in Bend or anyplace else)
But it would be tone deaf not to acknowledge the reality we’re facing both in Bend and on a national scale. Nearly 20,000 unemployment claims filed in Deschutes County since the start of the COVID crisis, and more than 100,000 dead in the US alone. Police violence, rampant racism, and a whole lot of us left feeling discouraged, helpless, angry, and hopeless.
You know what gives me hope? Doing something, anything, even the smallest of things to replace hate with love, ignorance with knowledge, and judgment with empathy. It’s like when your house is a total freakin’ mess and you don’t know where to start, so you clean out the junk drawer and start thinking “yeah, maybe this can get better.”
That junk drawer isn’t the stopping point. It’s barely a start, but it’s a way forward through the big, ugly mess. With that in mind, here are 3 ways to make one small corner of the world a little less terrible right now.
Practice Small Acts of Compassion
We’ve urged this sort of thing for a while through our Bend Pledge, encouraging folks to smile at strangers, use their turn signals, or pick up trash along the trails. It’s time to step up our game.
Support struggling local businesses by purchasing gift certificates through SOSBend.com. They desperately need funds to make it through not only the two-month shutdown, but the fact that tourism dollars will be thin for a while.
Wear a mask when you’re out and about. I know, I know…you’re not sick. Or maybe you see a mask as a sign of weakness or fear? That’s not what it’s about at all. It’s about protecting at-risk and immunocompromised folks from germs you may not know you’re carrying. It’s about providing peace of mind to that 80-year-old grandma who needs a gallon of milk, and would prefer to buy it without catching a deadly disease.
Have a heart and mask up for granny. She’d hug you for it if she could.
Anyone else remember when it was culturally sensitive to say things like “I don’t see race” or “I’m colorblind” as a way of assuring people that skin color doesn’t matter? That was a lousy message. I say this as a person pretty sure she made this exact statement at some point years ago. Guess what? I was wrong.
And it’s okay to admit I was wrong, and to acknowledge that I realize now that “I don’t see color” sounds like “I don’t see you or your unique struggle because I have the luxury of burying my head in the sand.”
Guys, it’s totally fine to admit there’s stuff we don’t know about race or other people’s lived experience. The great thing is that we can educate ourselves to know better and do better in the future.
Personally, I learned a lot by reading Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility (a book that came out in 2018, but currently sits at #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list in a heartening sign that folks are eager to learn). If a book like that isn’t your jam, ask your local library or Bend bookstore for recommendations in both fiction and non-fiction. Go out of your way to find articles outside your social media echo chamber of folks who believe exactly the way you do. Seek out actionable pieces like this one on 75 things white people can do for racial justice.
And for the love of all that’s holy, please stop retweeting and sharing articles that sow divisiveness and an “us against them” mentality. We’re all in this together. Let’s remember that.
Ever notice that you breathe easier and think more clearly when you’re outside? The world might suck, but there’s sun on your shoulders and grass beneath your bare toes and a breeze brimming with birdsong.
There’s a reason flight attendants tell people to put on their own masks before assisting others. To make a difference—to have the energy required to make the world a better place—you need to tend your own mental and physical wellbeing.
Above all, be kind to yourselves and to each other. Pretty please?
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