Let’s say you were strolling down the street when you spied a small child who had drifted away from his family. As motor vehicles streamed by at illegal speeds, the lad was getting perilously close to the curb. What would you do?
- Conjure up a potentially viral tweet
- Fastidiously apply for a permit to stage a rescue
- Become the change you wish to see in the world
- Commence a long flame war on Facebook
- Create a really clever sign to hold (making sure the pole was cardboard, of course)
- Take a selfie with the kid stepping off the curb in the background
I’m gonna safely postulate what you’d actually do is rush over and grab the poor child before he could set one single toe into the street. After all, you didn’t need anyone to point out that you were witnessing an emergency. And, in an emergency, you tend to immediately do whatever needs to be done.
Let’s say the emergency is larger scale and ongoing like, say, the situation after Hurricane Sandy in the NYC area. Without prompting, everyone I knew — from all facets of my life — was doing something to comfort those desperately in need. In fact, I’d posit that the final two months of 2012 provided us with a glimpse at what is possible.
We humans are typically on point when it comes to stepping up during an emergency. The trick, it appears, is actually recognizing an emergency when we encounter one.
After all, why do we virtually ignore the following?
- 1 in 5 women in the United States has been raped in their lifetime
- 78 percent of the old-growth forests are already gone
- 50 percent of America’s homeless population is over the age of 50
- 93 percent of the large fish in the ocean are already gone
- Search engines get 116,000 queries every day related to child pornography
- Almost 200 plant and animal species go extinct each day
Each and every one of these realities should trigger our sympathetic nervous system into fight-or-flight mode. Each of them should provoke panic and dread and terror and immediate action. EACH OF THEM IS A FULL-BLOWN EMERGENCY!
(And let’s be crystal clear, the above list is a frighteningly tiny sampling of what’s happening all over the world, right this minute.)
3 Ways to Recognize an Emergency
1. New eyes
To borrow from Proust, seeing the world with new eyes is the real voyage of discovery. The crises exist and have existed. With new eyes, we can finally see them. With new eyes, we identify the urgency. Within the realm of activism, we too often delegate this task to the hive mind. Hence, we must rediscover the subversive pleasure of thinking for ourselves.
2. Trust yourself
With new eyes comes new mindsets. We do not need Madison Avenue or the government or our beloved news feed to do the thinking for us. If you discern an emergency situation, you do not need anyone’s sanction before you take action. Let me repeat that because I know you missed it: If you discern an emergency situation, you do not need anyone’s sanction before you take action.
3. Listen to those being victimized
If you’re not sure what constitutes an emergency, talk to those on the receiving end. Your old eyes may be clouded by conditioning, by privilege, by past experiences, and by fear. Give a victim the opportunity to educate you and watch how quickly your new eyes proceed to focus with laser-like acuity.
In case of emergency, remember…
Patriarchy compels us to not identify patterns of male supremacy and domination.
White supremacy normalizes racial hierarchies and their inherent oppression.
Capitalism inundates us with images to obscure the pain and violence that feed it.
In addition, the realm of modern activism (fueled by social media) redirects our energy, our compassion, and our love into simplistic and fruitless pursuits.
- Utilize our new eyes to boldly diagnose the emergencies all around us
- Utilize our strong will and independent minds to reject archaic approaches
- Utilize our humility to listen and learn from those most in need
Start small. Start big. But start now. You are infinitely more powerful than you’ve ever imagined. And while you’re out there recognizing emergencies, remember one more thing: Don’t miss out on all the miracles either.
Fun Fact: The miracles outnumber the emergencies.
Mickey Z. is currently writing two books, a political memoir called How to Change Minds & Influence the Future: Rebuilding Activism From the Ground Up (Microcosm Publishing) and a fusion novella entitled stain red. In the meantime, he can be found here.
3 Ways to Recognize an Emergency in 2017 by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://worldnewstrust.com/3-ways-to-recognize-an-emergency-in-2017-mickey-z.