“If to be feeling alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic, then I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large” William Wilberforce.
Currently the world of facebook is inundated with photo’s of women wearing no make-up in a bid to “raise awareness” of cancer. Are people not aware that cancer is an issue? How is taking a photo actually making a difference? And on a feminist note why does it have to be about make up and looks and only women involved?
Their hearts are in the right place I guess.
Or are they?
Today I watched a harrowing documentary on Sex Trafficking. The director knew that this was an issue but didn’t know enough about it, so instead of taking a selfie, he travelled around the world talking with traffickers, Johns, Pimps, current and former prostitutes, psychiatrist, activists, members of government, and so on and so forth. His aim was to really understand what trafficking was, who was involved, the effects on the women and ultimately what could be done about it.
The point of this is, the director cared so actively went out to learn more about the issue and to then learn how to make a difference, THEN HE ACTUALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE, one obvious way being making a documentary to continue raising awareness.
He could have spent that time taking photos of himself and talking to people on facebook.
The world is a bit of a mess, there are so many things that are unjust, illnesses that need cures and regimes that we need to stand against. But hiding behind our computers isn’t going to change anything. What will change is finding one thing that you 100% believe in and devote your time, energy, resources, passion, imagination, skills to doing something about it.
Many of my friends inspire me in the way they live out this idea. I have a friend who is taking a sabbatical from work to go and live in an incredibly volatile and dangerous country to work with orphans, being there she runs the risk or imprisonment and possibly worse. But she believes in her cause. I have friends who run marathons to raise money and awareness for mental health charities, cancer research, rehabilitation homes and such like.
I see people making a difference.
And they inspire me to want to do the same.
There are many problems in the world that make me want to speak out and challenge people, and they are causes worth speaking out about, Female Genital Mutilation, Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence (abuse of any sort,) Pornography, LGBTQ and Hate Crime, the list kind of goes on really.
I wish I could support all of these issues and divide my time to making a difference, but I know that the reality is that my time would be spread so thin that I wouldn’t do anything other then send an occasional angry and judgemental tweet. Instead I’ve picked my cause, the standard I shall carry, the song I shall sing.
For me it is the state of Mental Health support, awareness, bigotry, judgement, misunderstanding and fear. I want this to be a world where there is no shame or fear in admitting to having a mental health diagnosis, where there is understanding and support. I want this to be a world where there is appropriate knowledge, understanding and support programs for people with a range of mental health problems. In particular, as a person of faith, I want to challenge the churches views and approach to be with mental health.
I have bi-polar, I have struggles with mental health since I was 12, with self-harm, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and a few other bits and pieces. I am not ashamed of this, more than anything I’m proud of myself for not only being alive but holding down a full-time job, being in a happy relationship for 2 years, being a friend and Godmother, a sister and daughter. I am alive and living life.
And I want people with mental health to have the same quality of life and self acceptance that I do.
The problem is people in the church are afraid of me, members of my family are ashamed of me, friends have abandoned me. I have been called many things, I have been told I was that I have a demon, that I don’t have enough faith, that I can’t be a Christian, that I have spoken it over myself and talked myself into being ill.
People are afraid to ask for help for these reasons and more.
It’s important to note that a large number of people don’t respond this way, I know plenty of supportive and loving people both in the church and out of it.
But it should’t be a large number of people, it should be all the people.
So I have my cause. I am doing something about this. I openly speak about my mental health and challenge the people who have a more narrow world view of the subject. I support and encourage people who have their own mental health problems. I work for a charity called selfharm.co.uk training people how to support those who self injure. I am constantly trying to learn more about the many diagnosis that are out there.
I wish I could devote my time to all the issues, that taking a photo was enough to change the world, but it isn’t. So I’m picking my battle and I’m fighting it, and once I’ve won I’ll start a new fight.
And that’s what I like about me, I ain’t giving up on what I stand for, I’m going to change the world.
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.” – William Wilberforce.
Slavery is out there, in so many forms, what are you going to do about it?