Let's be honest. The world is currently on fire and how we choose to respond, or not respond, to that nowadays tends to signal to others many things about us, and the kind of person they think we may be. Has that always been the case? Arguably so, I guess. But what's important now is that you and I are here, hopefully because we're both trying to figure out what more we can individually do as creatives or creative people, to help wash out the parts of the world currently burning around us at times. Figuratively and not speaking.
"But what can I do? I'm just an artist." "But what can I do? I'm just an Uber driver tryna mind my business." "But what can I do? I'm not even up to date on all that's going on, and honestly, I don't want to. It's overwhelming."
The truth is that if peace or change in the world is what we want, then we all have a role to play in the bigger search for this peace & change. We just have to get a little creative with how we contribute ourselves, and most importantly, we have to listen to the collective that is the "Us" as a human race, and talk about how we individually contribute towards a bigger picture.
Much like the players of a symphony do, each member carefully listens to the others' part, and then tries their best to play complimentary to that part, which in essence creates an ethereal melody, rhythm, and full song. The better the players learn to compliment each other's playing, the better the sound of the overall symphonic pieces. Similarly, you and I can find better ways to contribute in some shape, form, presence, or energy towards the bigger piece.
Personally, I'm a sound engineer, multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer of almost 15 years, but you can just call me a creative person. And honestly, I've experienced being stuck/frozen from feeling completely helpless when I hear the latest news on the many fires in our world, both literal and not, including Congo, Gaza, Mexico, and many others that I've lost track of from the same over-stimulation sometimes- I haven't mentioned the many other things I have to deal with on a daily basis as an intersectional human being, however. It all adds up. I get it.
I know it's okay to lose track of things sometimes. It's okay to be overwhelmed. But what's not okay, is to continuously try to look the other way, because we end up being essentially apathetic without meaning to. And is that really the thumbprint I want to leave behind? Do you?
Okay, so you obviously decided you want to do something. That's probably why you're here. But what could little 'ole you and me possibly do to make such a difference in the world? Should you and I even get involved? Wouldn't it be easier if we just kept minding our business? The answer is yes, you and I could go about your/my life and pretend everything's fine...and in honesty it would probably be easier, in the short term. But eventually the situation around you could become so extreme, that even if you were trying to mind your own business, it wouldn't be possible for you to do so. Let's be real. Unfortunately the way the world has been headed, there will likely be some point at which there will be some eternal circumstance which won't allow you to be able to mind your business.
Think of it like the typical: house is on fire. You're inside the house, sitting at a table, pretending your best the house is not on fire. Maybe you're ok for a lil bit. Maybe you're able to ignore it at first. But then the house gets too hot. And too smokey. And too fallen. And you either have to try to escape, or worse, you die pretending there's no fire as the fire takes over your house and you with it. Or more relatably, you lose your job. And now you're unemployed. And the government suddenly is trying to take away unemployment via legislation. And now instead of minding your own business like you originally wanted to, you're having to fight for unemployment rights or you'll be kicked out your home when you can't pay the rent next month because you no longer get unemployment. It's all pretty dark, right? I know. But my point is: why stand by and wait for things to worsen/darken, when we could actively participate in a better and more meaningful way, towards a more equitable and peaceful Earth, now? I'm convinced most people really do want a peaceful Earth, and they'd love for the genocide, wars, climate change, etc to stop. They just don't know how they can contribute, or what they can personally do.
If you don't know how, or maybe you need some type of guidance discerning a calling (something you feel passionate about, or that it's the purpose of your life, maybe), our great facilitator friends over at Slow Factory came up with a list of many different roles and callings that may help you brainstorm the many way(s) you could personally contribute towards a more peaceful, and truly liberated society in the world in general.
I've also added some of my own suggestions on #20, and #21as well as expansions, and self-reflections. Tell me which one represents you or what you'd like to contribute in?
Calling/Role #1 - Abolitionist
Favors the end of forced labor and carceral punishment. You envision an alternative to carceral punishment.
Calling/Role #2 - Advocate
Holds a cause or series of causes to heart and carries them to justice. (No less emphasis on the "carries them to justice".) You advocate for someone you may not agree with, but empathized with anyway.
Calling/Role #3 - Analyst
Applies critical and systemic thinking, maps methods to understand issues. You read at least 50 articles from 50 different sources, about something that caught your attention on the news lately and you are able to present information on an educative, holistic level.
Calling/Role #4 - Architect
Plans and designs new structures for collective liberation. You organize the next local protest or systemic call for change.
Calling/Role #5 - Artist
Inspires people to be in touch with their humanity. You created a process piece in response to any world event recently and you share it with the world. This also helps you process some feelings. All you have to do, is center the feelings you're having surrounding a recent world event, and get to painting/composing/recording/producing, then you share it with the world.
Calling/Role #6- Communicator
Tells stories and touches the soul of millions of people if need be. You're the only one in your group of friends on social media who seems to know what's always going on in the world and you communicate this to your networks of people as often as you can.
Calling/Role #7- Designer
Works in service to create for collective liberation. You decided to create some graphic designs advocating for certain causes or human rights yourself or with another group of people, and and sharing them with the world.
Calling/Role #8- Developer
Contracts and supervises the building of new structures.
You are the person who is able to secure a building for a good cause, or is currently working on a building which supports a good cause.
Calling/Role #9- Engineer
Invents, designs, and analyzes, builds and tests complex systems and machines. You strategize or organize others to strategize new systems or processes, machinery, etc. in support of a good cause.
Calling/Role #10- Healer
Heals intergenerational wounds and provides a path forward.
You come from a place of healing everyone equitably and kindly. Maybe you share your words online, or with persons in your daily interactions.
Calling/Role #11- Inventor
Invents a particular process, system, culture or device that are good for people & planet.
You come up with a new, better way of doing something; at times you may invent a way to bridge a gap.
Calling/Role #12- Luminary
Inspires people to rise beyond their expectations.
You always find the strength to to keep going even though you take breaks as needed. You find a way to find the light in others and constantly inspire them to share their spark with others.
Calling/Role #13- Negotiator
Comes to an agreement with someone else in favor of the collective.
You may act as an equitable and courageous representative for a collective of people, and speaks on behalf of any of the collective's decisions.
Calling/Role #14- Problem Solver
Engineers tangible solutions to real life problems. You analyze a situation, consider all things needed, and suggests courses of action to overcome a problem at arises.
Calling/Role #15- Scientist
Has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences. You maybe bring analytics and data forth. Maybe you conduct social experiments which support a collective of people, or to help understand a certain subject with data from real-impacted persons.
Calling/Role #16- Strategist
Skilled in planning action or policy especially in climate crisis, war, or politics.
You join a local group working on organizing or developing policies.
Calling/Role #17- Trouble Maker (I prefer "Catalyst")
Isn't afraid to ruffle some feathers when need be. You speak up about the "big elephant" in the room even if you're afraid, and even when everyone else seems to want to ignore it.
Calling/Role #18- Visionary
Receives downloads from the Universe to guide people.
You are connected to yourself, and the Universe in a holistic and/or spiritual way and you try your best to provide impartial counsel or guidance when needed.
Calling/Role #19- Writer
Writes books, stories, poetry, films, tv shows, articles, Op-Eds for new paradigms. You write in general, or in sequence, so as to provide a different perspective to a problem or series of problems. You also may help in writing communications, or partake in editorial journalism or blogging, much like this one.
Calling/Role #20- Record Keeper
Bears witness to happenings & historical events and documents them for later public usage. You are a photojournalist, journalist, blogger, or you just document everything happening around you on paper, or video document form without much subjective input.
Calling/Role #21- Nurturer
Feeds and nurtures the community in tangible ways. You nourish and nurture the community by providing food for movements and organizational meetings. You are one of the persons who gathers community in one way or another, facilitating safety and other services/items for the community.
Whichever way you choose to contribute onto the bigger picture, make sure to do it wholeheartedly and as present as you can. It's better to do one thing extremely well and passionately, than trying to contribute many things/roles at once, and end up getting burned out. It's also important to realize that you too are part of the bigger community, and therefore you can't take care of a community and not take care of yourself. Take care of yourself and others as often as you can.
Don't get too emotionally invested into the news/media for long-periods of time without end. Focus on your individual contributions instead, as often as possible.
Don’t Forget to Be Yourself and Give Back in Ways You Know How To.
Written by Reina "Rei" Palencia, aka MusiqReiV November 10th, 2023