About six hours in to a 13-hour solo road trip, I started listening to the audiobook Shrill: Notes from a Loud Women, written and narrated by Lindy West. Roughly five hours later, I had to fight the urge to pull off the interstate, haul out my laptop, and begin typing away on my laptop, so inspired was I to get back to the medium with which I’d become so disillusioned: writing on the Internet.
Lindy West is an anti-fat-shaming, feminist writer from Seattle, and in her book she recounts the ways she’s helped shift society with her writing. She talks about how using her voice has made an impact, on individuals and on larger conversations. She calls it world-building.
“My little victories – trolls [the internet variety], rape jokes, fat people’s humanity – are world-building. Fighting for diverse voices is world-building. Proclaiming the inherent value of fat people is world-building. Believing rape victims is world-building. Voting is world-building. So is kindness, compassion, listening, making space, saying yes, saying no.”
I remember a time when I believed in world-building. I have emails and facebook messages that support the grand notion that speaking up and talking back make a difference. Are they small difference? Tiny steps? Perhaps. But more important in the measure of my impact is the decision to be a part of the process.
We are, all of us, creating society. Right now. We are deciding together what we will stand for and what we will root out. We do it with our silence, our acquiescence, our resistance, our refusals. We do it with our reactions and with our intentions.
It’s so easy to lose sight of our own roles, our own power–tiny as it may be–to change tides.
“We’re all building our world, right now, in real time. Let’s build it better.”
What does that mean to me? What do I want to build and see in my society?
I want women to be believed. I want black men to not be feared. I want the police to be protectors before enforcers. I want health and wellness to be attainable by all. I want people to be able to take care of their bodies and their children and their parents. I want us to learn from history and science and each other’s lived experiences. I want us to be free to worship or to not, to love or to not, to be loved for exactly who we are.
I want the world to be a kind, compassionate, empathetic place for my daughter and my son.
And I know it won’t be all of that when I die, but I want to move the needle a little closer before I go.