Among the many challenging lessons of 2020, we have learned that COVID 19 is not the only contagious disease spreading across the globe. There is another equally dangerous strain of the virus that has entered the veins of our planet. It’s called social injustice. Of course, call it what you want — discrimination, inequality, intolerance, racism, chauvinism, xenophobia, homophobia. By any name, it’s the judgment we hold for another person. And let’s be clear, there is not a vaccine in the world that can keep this judgment from infecting our lives. It is a quiet killer of our spirit.
Fortunately, 2020 was also a big year for opening our eyes to what is happening right beneath our noses. We are starting to wake up and pay attention — no longer pretending that all men and women are equal simply because we say it is so. Perhaps, we have finally reached the boiling point. After all, isn’t this why so many people are taking to the streets, marching for reform, and demanding that this time be different.
But will it be different? Really different? Who knows? The United Nations is playing its part, declaring, once again, a World Day of Social Justice on February 20. We all know something must be done. We need change. And we need it now.
The question is: is it too late? And, for that matter, how do we go about making meaningful and lasting change, anyway? Must we take to the streets? Leave it to our politicians? Maybe not. Maybe we are the ones that need to change first.
I believe awareness is a good first step. We must begin by seeing the world with different eyes — to view racial, social, and political inequality in a new light, a new consciousness. It’s the only way we will ever begin to see each other as equals and unite as one global community.
But here’s the thing: no matter how much awareness we bring to social injustice, no matter how angry or indignant we get, we cannot mandate unity by declaration, force, or even sheer numbers. In fact, I believe equality doesn’t even begin with how we see the world. Equality starts much closer to home. It starts with how we look at ourselves.
I know it’s easy to believe that the path to equality must begin in the way we look to others with kindness and love in our hearts, as well as the recognition that we are all the same on the inside. And while this is true, it is also true that we will never reach this point unless we start with the person staring back at us in the mirror each morning.
How do we stop global injustice, discrimination, and intolerance?
We stop judging ourselves.
We stop comparing ourselves to others or telling ourselves how we don’t measure up — we’re not smart enough, rich enough, pretty enough, thin enough, successful enough, spiritual enough. We stop seeing our flaws and human frailties or seeing ourselves as lacking and incomplete.
The problem with self-judgment is that it leads to fear, anxiety, and depression. Even worse, it separates us from others and from our Divinity, which is how social injustice and intolerance begins in the first place — seeing what divides us instead of what unites us. Besides, others will always treat us the same way we treat ourselves.
The truth is simple: we will never stop judging the world around us unless we stop judging ourselves. It’s time to catch all our negative thoughts and words and let them go with a thank you to the Universe. We need to remind ourselves that we don’t have to be perfect; we have to be authentically and perfectly ourselves.
We are already complete — whole — each of us cut from the same cloth of Divinity. And once we recognize this, only then will we see that underneath the infinite stars of the Universe, we are all the same.
So, next time you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, do yourself a favor and smile with kindness and appreciation for how special and beautiful you are.
If you do it, I can promise you this: loving the world will be easy.
And the best part of all, your love will be contagious.