For those of you interested in looking within for answers as to how we can do more to help change situations such as the effect of the current immigration policy on children and families, I would like to offer the following writing activity developed by Martha Beck. This is a reflective activity called “Be The Change” that teaches how to take a negative situation and turn it around to take action on a personal level.
The first part is to write a letter to a person or group of people that you think SHOULD be doing something different. In this case, I could write to President Trump, the ICE patrols, or people on Facebook that are defending the immigration policies that I disagree with. I would unleash all my rage and sorrow on the page, then rip up, shred, or burn the letter.
The next step is to examine the behaviors that bother me: to realize how what I’m noticing and criticizing in others is something I’m actually doing myself and to myself.
For example, my thought might be: “I think people should be more compassionate to immigrants and refugees.”
When I turn that around into a statement about what I should be doing it becomes, “I should be more compassionate to immigrants and refugees.”
I then make of list of how I am not being compassionate to immigrants and refugees in my immediate life, which includes looking at ways I’m also not compassionate to myself.
The final step is to create an action plan. For example, I can smile more and be more welcoming to others, and especially look for opportunities to smile at children and make them feel more welcome where I work. I can also find ways to be more compassionate to myself, in those moments when I feel like I’m not doing enough to help. For example, I have to work on June 30th and can’t attend a demonstration. I can let myself off the hook and instead, share an activity like this that may help others work through their feelings and create their own personal action plans.