Heromakers in a Time of Political Turmoil

By Thomas Margraf

Susan Ann Samuel is a lawyer. With a passion to socially engineer change through empowerment, she feels called to advocate for the marginalized and the vulnerable in the society and to nurture lives across the globe through her legal career, writings, communications, and public speaking.

The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.

Mahatma Gandhi

I ask myself the simple question over and over again: How can I make a difference today? And how does the little difference I can make build up the future? The answer echoes back every time we find ourselves face to face with reality, and the only truth that leads us is our conscience pivoted in integrity. But lessons come in very practical ways, and life gives us reasons to observe them and learn. Let me share a quick story.

“We’re heading straight to the castle of our dreams,” said the little girl.

“That’s lovely!” I smiled at my younger cousin as she pointed to her sandcastle. But before long, a wave came and washed it away, and her tiny feet that felt the water brought a smile to her glowing face even as her little castle got ruined.

“Are you okay, little one?”

She looked at me and said, “We can build it again!”

I was thrilled to hear her say that, so I bent over and together we started building it again. And this time, it was better and bigger!

“We can build it again!” It’s a powerful concept and a deeply-needed viewpoint for us even as we try to navigate all that is going around us, and all that is wrong with our world.

How? I would often think. This world seems too out of reach, too out of control, too out of hope. Could we ever find a reason to build ourselves up, to build and rebuild consciousness, sensitivity, and bravery through a life of integrity? Could we integrate these values into our daily living, shaping us to be the heroes we were born to be, and creating a wonder that nurtures nations?

It could start with you, with me, and with every effort we put together to dream of a world we want to see.

But where do we begin?

By building together.

The year 2020 has found us at the edge of our seats trying to gasp for hope in the battling situations. The whole world is writhing under the grip of COVID-19, which has claimed more than 800,000 lives across the globe, and the effects it is having on the economic, social, and psychological well-being of the people in each nation are devastating.

Concerns rising in nations already struck with poverty, humanitarian crises, and food insecurity have pushed many to the brim of havoc. Additionally, challenges as a result of the ongoing cruelty from those who judge based on color, class, caste, and creed differences have spread globally.

Navigating the muddy waters of this political season

With the U.S. elections coming up, many questions are simmering in our minds:

  • What values can we bring even as we dream for the nation and the world?
  • How do our collective dreams shape our future?
  • What are our expectations, and why should these make us responsible for shaping this age?
  • How can we encourage each other to be heroes and heromakers during political turmoil?

Really, what we are asking is: How do we build our future, together? Let me offer just a few thoughts.

First, be kind.

When most of what we express is now contained in the virtual platforms of social accounts, how can we make sure that what we post and respond to is in line with our personal values?

We must begin by remembering that even when we are going through tough times, we must uphold love even when it hurts.

Sure, we all have reasons for preferring one political candidate or party. And we are becoming masters of using whatever platform—virtual or real life—to emphasize what we believe and why. This is both good and bad. We now have the ability to make our beliefs more widely known.

But if we are to be kind to one another, then we need to begin with seeking wisdom and a sense of innocence as we approach any conversation around politics. By combining these two things, we will become people of integrity. And integrity can refresh our conversations and posts, leading to a two-way relationship that pivots on love and respect.

Second, be responsible.

When we consider this political season, do we find ourselves hiding from the vitriol and anger around us, or are we working for the betterment of the society in which we live? When we voice our concerns or express our viewpoints, is what we say rooted in love and kindness? How, after all, can we be responsible in how we express ourselves?

Being responsible makes us conscious of the efforts we put in. It makes us look beyond ourselves and see the needs of the community.

Let’s consider how we’d answer the following questions, for instance:

  • Are we being responsible for caring for the elderly?
  • What about our children—is their education during this pandemic delivered safely?
  • How is unemployment devastating the the young man who got fired from his job recently?
  • Does my neighbor need me right now?
  • Am I caring for myself well?

When we stand for the community and those around us, we need to do so in ways that build bridges and allow for those who are hurting to heal. In recent months, we’ve seen radical expressions of indifference wounding the vulnerable, hostility at its peak, and hate crimes ripping us apart. Instead, when we act responsibly we stand hand in hand with all.

Responsibility is our ability to stay humble and empathize with our brothers and sisters so that together we can build our communities, our countries, and our world.

As we approach election season, we vote to show we’re responsible for the future we’re building. As we do so, we need to ask ourselves this critical question: Do we still have a dream that “the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality”?[1]

Third, be empowered.

When the youth are getting to the streets, when the old are dying, when the poor are starving and the globe is changing, these are the days that call us from the depth of our hearts to rise! And being just is being confident that our voices reverberating in truth will bring change.

We need to rise together in integrity, love, passion, and precision. Who we are in person alone will reflect how we are with others, and it takes courage to stay strong in building a positive passion that radically influences others.

In its “Covid-19 and Peace” report, the Institute for Economics and Peace states that the world lacks a credible approach to deal with the coronavirus crisis. This is likely to lead to growing inequality in wealth, deteriorating labor conditions in developing countries, and increasing alienation with the political system. These are conditions which provide fertile ground for demonstrations and the possibility of opportunities to promote unrest.[2]

Today, we’re not just confronting the reality of a locality or a nation; instead, we’re confronting the challenges of the world. Globally, we’re being attacked by many challenges that are all interposing their effects in some way or the other.

Where is all this taking us? To ourselves. It is time we empower ourselves and those around us.  Heroes are not built in a day; instead, they are the result of continued empowerment. We need to see ourselves wielding change and being channels of hope.

With kindness, responsibility, and empowerment, we are being shaped to share a dream with all humanity. We are becoming people who can dream better and bigger!

Justice starts with our perception rooted in truth. And truth builds courage, bringing every element in ourselves to follow our inner voice that heeds a higher call, a purer passion, and a determined dream.

Often, when I stand at the courtroom with my black gown flowing behind me, I look straight at the picture hanging in the top middle portion above where the judge is seated. It is a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. One quote of his which has always touched me is this one: “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.”

He persevered for truth, and truth preserved his dream!

Truth makes us take our stand, and when we stand, we’ll be heard; and when we are heard, we will inspire.

A few months before his death, American statesman and civil rights leader John Robert Lewis spoke this atop Selma Bridge in Alabama on March 1, 2020: “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble and help redeem the soul of America.”

These are the days when we need to ask ourselves this simple question: What are we doing to redeem the soul of our nation, of our world, and of humanity?

If we are all heromakers, then we need to hear that “still small voice” that tells us we must stay kind, responsible, and empowered so that we can build hope for the future. Let’s let our integrity and love shine bigger and brighter than ever. It’s what we all need right now.

 

[1] Nobelprize.org – 1964; Martin Luther King Jr. Acceptance Speech

[2] Forbes 10-06-2020; Dominic Dudley