Turn on the light

Like a lot of peo­ple, I woke up the 9th of November fac­ing a glob­al headache. A headache we could have seen com­ing, which has slow­ly built out­side of our bub­bles, just next to it in fact. Those talks, remarks, “jokes” that slow­ly built through­out the years and that we have all heard dur­ing our fam­i­ly or friends gathering, …

I’m not going to lie, Donald Trump’s elec­tion ter­ri­bly brought me down. During this whole day, I felt I was feel­ing deeply sad, fac­ing a lot of ques­tions about myself, the soci­ety, the world. Because it’d be a lie to think that this elec­tion won’t have any impact here, as the same things are already build­ing up in the coun­tries next to ours (France with Le Pen and the Manif pour Tous, England with the Brexit, …). Everywhere in the world, peo­ple are say­ing things I’d have thought unthink­able some time ago, attack­ing “the oth­er one”, the “migrant”, the “stranger”, …

On the oth­er side, nobody believes any­more in our demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem as it is, but this view brings a lot of con­se­quences on its own too.

The old world is dying, and the new world strug­gles to be born: now is the time of mon­sters.” – Antonio Gramsci


And I total­ly under­stand this atti­tude towards our sys­tem, those records in terms of peo­ple who don’t even take the time to vote (even more for my gen­er­a­tion). How can you still believe in a sys­tem that looks more and more like a suc­ces­sion of son, grand sons, daugh­ters, … of the same fam­i­lies ? In a sys­tem that is far and far away from everyone’s dai­ly life. How can we keep believ­ing in a sys­tem that is so quick­ly moved by pop­ulist speech­es, where it’s eas­i­er to say that “the for­eign­er is steal­ing your job” than to explain why our works are dra­mat­i­cal­ly chang­ing and that not a sin­gle one of our politi­cians is work­ing to pre­pare this change? How to keep believ­ing in a sys­tem that gets old­er and old­er, where our youth is more and more reject­ed, not believed, where even the “young” parts of the polit­i­cal par­ties aren’t lis­tened by their peers?

But this morn­ing, I was able to get up from bed with a clear­er mind, a new ener­gy and inspi­ra­tion. To face the events, I’ve real­ized that even on our small side, we were able to change things, and that we shouldn’t believe noth­ing was in our hands. That even if my gen­er­a­tion will take many years before reach­ing any of those posi­tions that can allow us to change the sys­tem as it is today, it’s still pos­si­ble to help chang­ing things.

It might not look like much, but those small ideas have a human impact that we can real­ize, that we can live on our own. Because even if we can help only ten peo­ple around us, that’s already quite a num­ber for a small human being. Those propo­si­tions might sound sim­plis­tic, but they’re not made to change the sys­tem, instead they aim at open­ing our minds, get us a bit clos­er to each other.

Give some of your time to help strangers

Two years ago, after a lot of hard times, I want­ed to find a way to help oth­er peo­ple going through times alike. As I was both work­ing as employ­ee and side free­lancer, it was real­ly hard for me to find the time to join a sup­port call-cen­ter team with some­times com­plex sched­ules. It was around this time that I dis­cov­ered 7 Cups. This web­site allowed me to help tens of peo­ple, by just being here for them. I’ve dis­cov­ered, some­thing I’ve nev­er real­ized, that a lot of peo­ple around the world just need­ed some­one who would lis­ten to them, some­one who will tell them that they’re worth some­thing, that they’re unique, that they deserve that we take some time for them.

I’ve talked with peo­ple all around the world, which are still anony­mous as of today, with a lot of dif­fer­ent trou­bles, per­son­al life events, some­times very hard. But even with a bit of time, even just one hour a week, I was real­ly able to help some peo­ple, even just to tell them : you are not alone.

Talk to your elders, question their speeches

The cur­rent racist, homo­pho­bic, sex­ist speech has become wide­spread in our soci­ety, some­how “lib­er­at­ed”. While it’s impos­si­ble to rea­son with a real racist, you can, on your own, talk to your loved ones. May it be by ques­tion­ing your uncle who tells you he lost his jobs because of “those mus­lims”, or your grand-moth­er fright­ened grand-moth­er ter­ri­fied by “those black peo­ple”, by talk­ing to your old neigh­bor, … By reach­ing to them, by show­ing them that the “oth­ers” are not that ter­ri­fy­ing, that they have much to offer, much to show. By show­ing them what’s real­ly hap­pen­ing also with the job indus­try, by mak­ing them face the ongo­ing changes, far from the easy racist excuses.

Free your old stuffs

In our lit­tle coun­try, we are lucky enough to have a lot of orga­ni­za­tions that seek to help oth­ers. Most of those orga­ni­za­tions don’t even expect you to give mon­ey, but will glad­ly take all those old stuffs you don’t real­ly need. Because those old stuffs might help some­body else, who’s look­ing for them or don’t have the mon­ey for them.

Even eas­i­er, free your old books, drop them at a bus stop, on a bench, with a lit­tle world. A lot of peo­ple grow up with­out any access to books or not enough, give them a chance. From my point of view, read­ing helped me to open my eyes to new ideas, new habits, … So if a small book can help change someone’s mind, free them instead of let­ting them gath­er dust on an old shelve.

Burst your bubble

If you’re left-wing, right-wing, repub­li­can, lib­er­al or what­ev­er, we’re all guilty of liv­ing in our own bub­ble (will­ing­ly or not). Helped my Google, Facebook & oth­ers algo­rithms, we only see what we agree on, what we want­ed to see (they’re not even that guilty, we asked for this, by hid­ing this racist uncle, unfriend­ing this homo­pho­bic friend, …).

While it can be real­ly hard to read some­one with oppo­site views (and I ful­ly under­stand, I can burst into flames quite quick­ly when trig­gered), it’s how­ev­er pos­si­ble, on our side to open up to oth­er sources. Make this lit­tle step, add in your links, your Feedly, your Facebook feed, … some source from “the oth­er side”. Not to agree with it, not by masochism, but to force you to see what the “oth­er side” thinks, how they see the world, what they fear, what they hope … It’ll give you some ground to under­stand the oth­ers, and will avoid you too much sur­prise when your bub­ble explodes.

Hire young people / minorities

Might not be for every­one, but per­haps this idea can spread : dare to hire young peo­ple and minori­ties. Of course young peo­ple will make mis­takes, won’t have all the expe­ri­ence you’re look­ing for, per­haps would look even too “dif­fer­ent”, not “cor­po­rate” enough, … but young peo­ple can also bring so much to your com­pa­ny, by shar­ing anoth­er vision, by bring­ing his expe­ri­ence into domains you haven’t heard of. Reach out to minori­ties, cease to be afraid, to always tar­get the same peo­ple, the same diplo­mas, the same schools, dare to diver­si­fy your com­pa­ny, dif­fer­ences only make you richer.

Lower your exi­gen­cies too. I live in a coun­try with 3 offi­cial lan­guages, it has become impos­si­ble to find a job offer that doesn’t ask, at least, to mas­ter 2 of those lan­guages and English. Dare to break those bar­ri­ers, because com­pe­tences go far beyond lan­guages, and you might miss a lot of won­der­ful peo­ple because they don’t speak a lan­guage you, frankly, nev­er use in your office.

Write, share your experience

For those who like to write, share your expe­ri­ence. Write, join the NaNoWriMo if you need sup­port, inspi­ra­tion, … but write.

Might it be to pro­voke dreams, to make peo­ple thinks, or just so that some­one might see him­self in what you write and might under­stand that he’s not alone, that you lived the same thing : write. Because it’s by shar­ing our expe­ri­ences that we’ll all evolve and go towards a greater good.

Now what ?

As I said, those ideas might sound sim­plis­tic, I don’t pre­tend to change our whole sys­tem, because I hon­est­ly don’t know how to do this. I force myself to try, dis­cov­er new ideas, new propo­si­tions, but can’t repli­cate them on my own. But all those things I said before ? Those I can, those are doable. And even if they sound like small steps, even if it helps only ten peo­ple, it’s already a step in the right direction.

Because I refuse to believe that we can­not change any­thing, because I don’t want to give up and I deeply believe that we’ll be able to change this world. Even if at this moment we can only do that around us, even if it’s just local or human, we’ll change it. It may sound naive, but all those pro­pos­als already helped peo­ple and will help some oth­er, so I’ll keep on going, and I won’t give up.

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Simon Vandereecken

Freelance UX Designer living in Brussels (Belgium), with a deep interest into philosophy, personal growth, self improvement, books, music, ... well in many things ! I use this website to write thoughts going through my head as well as ideas, observations and reading notes. Feel free to get in touch ;)