Ally to the All or an Ally to None
WIIS West’s current state was born out of the notion that to achieve the goals we all have and to truly reach a place of national and international security, we need to change who leads. We will never get to where the majority of the planet wants to be if we scream in a vacuum but do not maintain the discipline of action. We have to have local, regional, and national leaders that are majority people of color, because that’s what our country is. Majority women, because that’s what our country is.
In light of the recent events here in the United States, in light of the events in United States history, in light of the way our country has evolved since January of 2017, in respect to our core values as an organization, our official statement for now and forever is this: You are either an ally to the All or an ally to none.
Who is “the All?”
People of color, women, the disabled, the poor, the elderly, children, teenagers, religious minorities, the abused, the neglected, those that have been persecuted for things driven by superstition, veterans, the wrongfully incarcerated, and all with means who spend every single day living a life driven, governed, and disciplined by integrity that says all people must be given the means to live a full and safe life. "The All" are the people who have been strategically forced into the margins to keep the status-quo of majority leadership from changing. Fmr. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently said, " Use your common sense and say, "Is this good for my country?" before you say "This is good for me."
We are all guilty of violating this mandate. Everyone must look inward and ask, “How have I violated this and what will it take to change it within me?”
You are either an ally to the All or an ally to none.
How do we check in with this honesty? You can ask yourself hard questions:
Do you live a life that seeks out gender equity but you are an apologist for social and economic disparity driven by systemic racism?
Are you a passionate supporter of the destigmatization of mental illness but children “just aren’t you thing?
Are you in the marches for people of color but excuse chauvinistic behavior because you’re “just being a man?”
Are you a champion of religious freedom but you are uncomfortable with transgendered people?
Are you lecturing others on LGBTAIQ rights but you take for granted what disabled people have to consider every single time they leave the house?
Are you paying attention to the social politics of the places where you spend your money?
Do you ever find out something antithetical to your core morality about a store or restaurant you love and you just ignore it; give yourself a pass?
Do you expose your kids to a variety of cultural cuisines, art, entertainment, ideas?
Do you expose yourself to these things?
Do you waste precious moments of your day being entertained by someone else’s misery in any way?
You are either an ally to the All or you an ally to none.
We all have to be profoundly and deeply honest with ourselves now and accept no excuses; not from ourselves and not from each other.
We need folks on the board of directors, on city councils, at the head of private companies, in government, in thought leadership, in influencer spaces, that are LGBTAIQ, that are disabled. We need to see that it is our responsibility to honor and protect the lives of those too young to have complete agency over their own existence, those who's mental or physical capabilities puts them at a disadvantage in mainstream society, and the lives of those who have spent their many days and years carving paths for us to walk through and now it’s time to take a well-earned break.
We need to realize that if we were lucky enough to be somehow in power by the color of our skin, by our economic echelon, by our family name, by our physical capabilities, by our gender, it is pure luck we got there and gratitude demands we use this power, any power, to help others.
If you are a part of the benefitting class of people who do not see the need for change and, in fact, fear it; if you have power in this country and you use it at all carelessly or to hurt another human being, you do not fit in anymore. By all means, find a place to live that matches your values. Increasingly, it will be difficult, and you will have less and less shared principles with the people around you until, eventually, those notions will be completely dead. Then, perhaps, maybe considering these winds of change is a better idea.
Do you love this country? I’m sure you do. Most Americans do, even the ones that have been maligned and felt so much suffering at the hands of other Americans. It’s because the experiment on which this country was founded, the core concept of a nation of free people, equal and open to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is embedded in the hearts of us all and still feels, despite it all, completely achievable. We are the only country on the planet that has it written into our Constitution that we have the right to be happy. If this is our right, it is everyone’s right.
How do we get it?
We will get it only through the discipline of making it happen, being honest about how it will happen, and accepting no excuses on the way. Suffering is not an abstract concept; it is a real thing happening to real people. Every single time you pledge allegiance to this country, to end with "with Liberty and Justice for all." We can do it, we can meet the right of happiness.
You are an ally to the All or you are an ally to none.