Stay Woke or Awaken?
I don’t know. Lately, overhearing the shallow conversations of my peers is beginning to make me cringe. I often wonder, Am I getting old? But, I’m only 35 and most of my peers are about the same age as me. When it comes to living a conscious life, a life in an emotionally awakened state, a life that leads to perspectives from a 360-degree angle and not from that of a narrow, right angle; I feel like my generation has it twisted. I hear us talking about how we’re “woke” and we’re not falling for this company’s products or that company’s advertising, but some of us will stop and curse a person out at the drop of a deuce. We’ll do it over something petty, like cutting in line at the grocery store. Exactly, which part of being woke is that? When have you picked up a book and read about a conscious awakening, encouraged by putting someone in their place?
So, what is it about being woke that’s become so attractive to us, the MTV babies? What is it about having an awakening that’s become so unattractive? Is there a gap between our mental resistance to manipulation and our spiritual willingness to grow? It’s become a badge of honor to claim you’re woke, but what kind of honor comes from blaming other cultures of habitual suppression? How does the blame game empower our everyday walk in life? Muslims are terrorists. Black people decrease the value of neighborhoods. Chinese folk are cheap and Mexicans steal all the jobs. It shifts our view of the eccentricity that diversity creates and turns it into a personal attack on all levels. It digs up dividers from beneath the surface and causes tension to erupt through our roots. It lights flames within our cores that become suffocated in the dark. It points broken fingers and it bounds us to mental poverty using chains of the past.
I’m, in no way, naïve to the deceptive techniques of our mass corporations. I read food labels. I research manufacturing companies. I’m in no way naïve to the racial barriers that lie between being gainfully employed, graduating high school or being allowed to vote. I’ve experienced discrimination in more ways than one (gay, black, female, educated in a more privileged setting than my peers). And, I’m, in no way, naïve to the idea that not every lesson in our history book is 100% accurate. I understand there are probably a few errors in the solar system book I read in my middle school, science class. But, there’s a fine line between being aware of a situational concept and understanding the concept’s presence in our own lives. There’s a fine line between being woke and becoming awakened.
I could visit my local, farmers market every weekend. I could wear patchouli and coconut oil. I could Sip on freshly squeezed juices. Purchase original art from the artist, themselves. I could walk around wearing a NO GMO t-shirt and sign every medical marijuana petition that comes across my path. I could quote every harmful chemical in a box of Cheerios and recite all the toxic ingredients in a Whopper. Yet, still, I’d only be aware. Maybe, if I paid for an Ancestry.com analysis, I’d be a little more woke. Woker, I guess? Or, visit a great sibling somewhere in another country. Then, I could really trace my lineage. I could really be woke. But, what do I do with all this wokeness? How do I interpret it? What role does woke play in our lives?
Some of us use it to our own detriment. We let woke control us. We won’t eat, move, share, or search in the name of being woke. “I’m not working for them, they’re trying to hold me down.” “I’m not eating that, some man made it. I’m not hungry.” “I’m not sharing with them, they don’t even like us.” “Don’t read that. They made it up to trick you. Alternative facts.” We become so entangled in being woke, we never wake the hell up. We don’t take the time to exercise our knowledge in a productive way. We use our woke state to bury the awakening that’s been with us our whole lives. We hide behind our own insecurities and pre-judgments. We blame everyone else for our failures (which are only growing lessons in disguise). We fear change. We fear artistic expressions. We fear everything that’s not like us, or who we weren’t told we were before our woke-baptism.
It’s time to make moves from a woke state to an awakened state. It just doesn’t make sense to separate ourselves from others who aren’t like us. Others who don’t eat, dress, talk or pray the way we do. I learn more and more every day about my culture. Who I am. Who my parents’ parents were. I read books and tour museums that paint a picture of how my ancestors once lived. But this doesn’t mean I have to walk the lonely road of everyone who’s different than me is out to get me. When you awaken, you use what you’ve learned in your woke state as empowerment. You go realms within to find security in yourself. You trust that something bigger than you will guide you as you become a proactive blessing in your peers’ lives, not a reactive distraction.
I know what it feels like to suffer. So, before I make a nasty comment to the person cutting me off on the way to work or roll my eyes at the person jumping ahead in line, I’m going to assume that there’s something going on within them that’s blocking their inner flame. There’s something within them that doesn’t allow them to view me as an equal human, as another person, who may have my own situations going on too. But, because I’m awakened, I let it go. I’m not simply woke and seeing their action as one that’s prejudice or biased or disrespectful. But I see their action as one that lacks complete thought. An action that hasn’t had any forethought of compassion. If I’m awakened and I understand we’re not on the same level right now, why disrupt their miserable life, as it is? They’re already suffering, just fine, by themselves. They’ve already got enough to deal with.
I understand how support looks. I can support people of like-minded thinking without walking over the people who think differently. I can buy the products, wear the shirt, attend the conferences, and post all over the blogs. But I can still show appreciation for the diversity that unites us. I can educate in a way that sets an example of being bigger than the issue, at hand. I can lead by example that we’re all bigger than our problems when we face them together, allowing each other to be who we are while doing so. I can awaken.
I believe we can allow ourselves to grow in a direction that makes life easier. A direction that allows us to become woke with wisdom. The wisdom that comes from overcoming our trials and tribulations, creating new experiences, learning from our failures, and gaining from our successes. A wisdom that can be shared with our fellow peers in order to make empowering decisions. When we empower each other, we push ourselves one step closer to being awakened. We show everyone that there’s enough good in the world for all of us. One person’s gain isn’t another person’s loss. One person’s gain can be a gain for everyone. However, one person’s loss is a hit on all of us. Just because you’re woke, doesn’t make you better than anyone else or immune to empathy, compassion, and tolerance. What better example is there than being one who can relate with your peers, through the hardships of your past? It’s time we use our wokeness to encourage a generation that’s willing to awaken. It’s time to put down our guards of anger, shields of fear, and swords of retaliation and trade them in for tools of understanding, tolerance, and unification.
I strive to be more than woke. I’m reaching for something deeper than understanding my roots or my family’s heritage. I want to be more than a trend. I want to be bigger than an Instagram post. I want to live larger than the stereotypes that make me small. I want to understand the importance of being woke today, in order to usher in tomorrow’s awakening. I’ll remember my ancestors’ fight through oppression and vow to never oppress my peers. I’ll support ethical businesses run by like-minded people because, in the end, we all win. I’ll tolerate those with dimmed flames, yet always remain lit during their times of reviving. I won’t fall victim to becoming a victim of the past. Instead, I’ll be an over comer who understands what it feels like to be victimized and pledge to never put any of my peers in the same predicament. I’m staying woke to the awakening.