Resisting the urge to look away

I published my first blog post for A Striving Parent only four months ago. Four months is no time at all, but I am amazed by how quickly my day-to-day life has changed since before I started this project. Now, I’m on an intentional parenting path, I’ve built community with other parents locally and nationally around issues of social and racial justice and I’m starting to organize parent workshops here in Atlanta.

My life has changed and this blog propelled me into action even though that wasn’t necessarily my original intent. At first, I only committed to stay up on national and international news as much as possible; to seek out stories that weren’t floating to the surface through mainstream media. If nothing else, I wanted my writing and the Facebook page to keep me accountable to the parent and person I strive to be.

I quickly discovered, however, that reading and digesting the news is exhausting in and of itself. At my core, I’m an optimist who believes in the good of humanity, but the barrage of injustice happening on a daily basis pushes back against that innate hopefulness. The discord between what I want to believe about the world and what the world actually presents is challenging. In my best moments, that discord inspires me to act. In my worst moments, the discord causes me to retreat.

The national and international events of the past few weeks has created major internal dissonance. Hope has been a fleeting emotion and my worst self so desperately wants to make an appearance. I’ve felt this powerful urge to turn off the TV, shut down my computer, power off my phone and just bliss out on sweet, sweet ignorance. I want to enjoy the fact that my daughter started walking this past week and get lost in the wonder and excitement of watching her wobbly little legs carry her around without the overwhelming fear that the world is falling apart. I want to focus on the upcoming Thanksgiving meal with family without worrying about how the holiday itself has been revised and edited; the original atrocities of the English settlers nowhere to be found within the story we’re taught since childhood. Worrying about the world ending versus changing our Thanksgiving narrative obviously fall on different spectrums of extremity, but I purposely use them both because the more educated I become the more I realize that on a macro and micro level much of my understanding of the world is horribly skewed.

I recognize that my personal inclination to run and hide under the covers is a reflection of my white privilege. I can fall back on that privilege anytime I choose. I can stop reading the news, stop engaging my community around racial and social justice and my life will most likely not be effected. But I don’t want to live like that. In the moments when I feel overwhelmed or scared and the urge to look away is strong, I have to take a deep breath and get grounded in reality. My reality. That I’m safe and so is my family. That I’m privileged and so is my family. And that I’m in a position to be a change agent within the context of my family and my community. For me, the potential for change breeds hope.

It’s imperative I understand the violence against my black and brown brothers and sisters at the hands of the state. It’s imperative I listen to what it means to be a black college student in this country. It’s imperative I mourn with Paris, but reflect on why Beirut gets little attention. It’s imperative I denounce dangerous and hateful rhetoric against Syrian refugees and Muslims. It’s imperative I condemn those who use tragedies to discredit another person or group’s oppression as if pain and oppression can ever be quantified in such a way. That’s a lot to undertake at any given moment, but turning a blind eye will not make these realities go away for anyone except me. Learning about and acknowledging the atrocities happening is the first step towards changing them.

I plan on filling my cup, literally and figuratively, over the next few days to recharge and regroup. Staying present and bearing witness to pain and suffering is challenging, but can never be compared to experiencing the suffering first hand. This perspective is important. November has been a doozy of a month. I don’t expect the horrors to stop just yet, but I will not look away. As long as change is possible, hope burns eternal. I give thanks for all the people in this world who are fighting for that change. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.


6 thoughts on “Resisting the urge to look away

  1. Tiffany Chan says:

    Shannon, I give thanks for you and your writing. What you are doing in this space is so important and admirable. As a fellow writer and mom I sometimes read your posts and think, “Well, shoot, she’s already writing about this. I’ve missed my chance!” As if there were a limit to how many of us can strive and speak our truths, right? It’s always wonderful to know we are not alone in this world, and I appreciate the topics you raise. I wish we were in the same city so I could take you to lunch. For now I’ll just keep reading and reflecting and striving along with you. Wishing you and your family wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. strivingshannon says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Tiffany! I have had the same feelings you described after reading another persons writing. I agree, though, that in the end it’s so comforting to know there are other parents out there striving towards the same goals. I can’t wait to check out your stuff!!


  2. says:

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There’s no doubt that that you should write more about
    this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t speak about such issues.
    To the next! Best wishes!!


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