A friend recently asked on Facebook for “the most challenging and enlightening resource you have read/watched about the problem of racism in America”. This question received numerous responses within the day: half a dozen films, dozens of books, podcasts, courses, and other hubs of information resources (as well as the astute reply, “Conversation”, which is, of course, the most relational and human of “resources”).
I think that this experience was shared by most people in early June (as protests & concerns over racial injustice had reached a critical volume): so many resources, so much to learn.
But now, 2 months later… what have we done with the magnitude of worthy, fascinating, perspective-altering information & insights that have been brought to our attention?
And this it only in the area racial injustice. In other interests & concerns: How much do we know? How much have we learned & read & listened to already?
Here’s the thing…
We have enough content to read, watch, listen to, consider, act upon… for several lifetimes. Truly!
What we rarely have is the patience, focus, and stamina to learn & absorb deeply. (Not to mention, to take action, yikes!)
We all have different levels of how much news/media/information we can absorb before our brains & emotions explode or we become numb. So, if you can read the news every day, and follow lots of changemakers, and collect more resources — without feeling inundated & overwhelmed — you do you! For myself and anyone else who feels like they need a T/O on new input, here's what I propose: a break and an audit.
First: do an audit of the resources you already have.
Make a list — or create a shelf, make a pinboard, take a note, or WHATEVER — of the books, podcasts, articles, courses, etc. that have already been on your radar. A recommendation from a trusted friend, a book on your bedside table (unread), a link in your "saved" folder...
Key: Do not go looking for more information! Take a look at what is already before you and dwell there. Do not sign up for more newsletters or start following new people!
This exercise — let's say a month of break — is to take a pause from new input, and focus on existing, available resources.
Take some time & dive into all that you have already collected.
The second audit is of what you already know.
What snippets, articles, or books have you read in the past that still stand out in your mind? What is a podcast that rocked you, or a conversation that changed you? Instead of starting something new, go back. Remember the bits that you've already learned. Go back to the source and re-hear it again.
In some cases, during some seasons, what we need is to learn more & hear new voices — sometimes that results in a complete shift of perspective!
But, I would argue that more often, the reality is that we simply need to dwell more, longer, and with greater depth, on what we already know.
Naturally, what may extend from that second audit is the question: what now? What do I do with what I know?!
Maya Angelou famously said,
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
I want to affirm LOUD AND CLEAR that everyone has different gifts & inclinations, different contributions for the world. I've wrestled around with this tension for years.
Some great news is: in most cases, something extraordinary has come as a result of a whole lot of ordinary.
Let's give ourselves the freedom this month to actively avoid new ideas (great and insightful and deep as they may be) and dwell on everything that has confronted us already. To take stock, make decisions, and step forward as we feel compelled.
This season for dignify has challenged us with waiting. Blankets have been leaving our hands at the fastest pace ever (yay!) and we are trying to simply keep up. Add extra inconveniences & delays (from COVID, from customs checks, and more), and we have been really exercising our muscles in patience, trust, and gratitude.
Culturally, we are in a stage of waiting, as well. Waiting for vaccine rollout. Waiting for "normal" opportunities to return, for "normal" life to resume in our cities, our nations.
Looking back at some photos from last Christmas, I came across this screenshot from my phone that really made me laugh:
My husband was dropping off our parcels recently, and a woman working in our shipper's office said, "I was looking at your site, and I think I might buy some of these blankets this year as gifts; I'm mostly shopping online." Another employee chimed in, "I'm going to do all of my shopping online, too."
That evening, he went with our kids to the mall to pick something up (masked, natch), and as he surveyed the hallways — with some permanently closed stores, some shuttered from lack of employees, etc. — Wayne's thought was, "I think I need to do all my shopping at the mall!"