This week, I was serving on an alternative spring break trip in Selma, Alabama. I know, it may seem random. But there is actually an extreme amount of history in Selma, especially in relation to the Civil Rights Movement. On this trip, I met some of the best people in my entire life. The group of students I was with, my co-advisor, the people and students in Selma…literally every. single. person. Y’all are just incredible people.
Usually, I process through writing. I’m the guy that’ll say, “Okay, I’ll be over here in the corner,” while I pull out my journal or laptop to sit and process my thoughts for the day. But on this trip, I didn’t do that once. In lieu of that, our group had four hour debriefing conversations that went until two in the morning. And I loved every minute of it. But because of that, I’ve been having a difficult time putting my thoughts into written words. But, Sunday means a new blog post, so here we go.
This week, I have learned so much about myself. I have grown more than I have this week than in entire years of my life. I was given a new perspective. I began to release my own freedom from within. I connected with like-minded individuals. But most importantly, I found a home. I found a community of people who felt mutually supported, cared for, and loved. And although it is so incredibly difficult to condense all my lessons from this week into one post, I’m going to try my best. Because even the smallest snippet of what I learned might be useful for all of us here, no matter your age.
- Deconstruct Walls
- We all have walls built up around us. From previous experiences, people we’ve met, etc. But in Selma, I felt as if all of our walls were gone. There was no reason to have walls in such a loving, caring community. And by the end of the week, with walls gone, we were all able to say that we loved each other, and we all genuinely meant it.
- Free Yourself
- In many social justice trainings, we talk about eliminating stereotypes of other people. But what about the stereotypes that have been placed on us by society? This is a silly example, but this week, I learned that I love to dance. But before, I was always so reserved about it. Maybe it’s because I was trying to be “a professional” or maybe I was “too uptight” to let loose and have a good time through dance. But we have the power to free ourselves of those stereotypes. Liberate yourself from society’s expectations.
- Plant Seeds
- Some of you may know, I tend to get frustrated with some folks who believe certain things. I get especially frustrated with people when I think that their eyes will never open, because I feel like there’s nothing I can do to help them see the truth in this world. But here’s the thing: you never know when you are planting a seed. You might say something that doesn’t make sense to them in the moment, but days, months, or even years later, they might call you in tears in a moment of finally understanding what you were trying to say. Or maybe they won’t. Either way, you never know when you are planting those seeds.
- Love All
- A man I met this week said, “I love Donald Trump. I don’t love his ideas, but I love Donald Trump.” I was confused. I thought Donald Trump’s ideas were Donald Trump. But that’s not necessarily the case. Trump comes from an environment that leads him to believe what he does. Principle three of nonviolence states, “Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil.” In other words, hate the sin, not the sinner. We are all deserving of love, and because of that, we have the ability to love all.
- Have Courage
- Everything I’m saying here is terrifying. It’s not easy. As written in Hamilton, “Dying is easy, young man; living is harder.” Living is harder. It takes courage. The first principle of nonviolence, “Nonviolence is the way of life for courageous people.” This blog post is not a check, check off my list. It’s a process that I will be working on for a long time. But finding that courage and inner strength will help in that process.
And although there is a sense of heaviness with me today while I process leaving a place I grew to love so much, I am high-key excited to begin this journey, and learn to live out these lessons.