Key takeaways from #6Degrees2020
At a time when the forces of exclusion, discrimination, and hate continue to gain strength all over the world, we must choose inclusion as a pillar for the world we want to create. At our first digital-only 6 Degrees forum, we heard from speakers from around the world — and from our communities — on how we must approach the intersecting crises of this moment, how we emerge from the pandemic with a more equitable society, and how the global movements for racial and social justice can push for meaningful change.
Here’s what we learned, what actions you can take, and how you can connect with our network.
Racism, ageism, misogyny, and inequality are poisoning our societies, and these problems have been laid bare during the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes we need — in justice, in reconciliation, and in building trusted (and trustworthy) institutions — won’t happen overnight. It will take relentless optimism, determination, imagination, and work. We have already seen how this pandemic has inspired heartening efforts for change. When you are in need of further inspiration, think about the young people in your life — in your family, in your circles of friends, and in your neighbourhood — and the kind of world you want them to inherit.
What am I doing today to make the life of the seventh generation a better one?
We have to work harder so we leave no one behind. Too often, our policies, our institutions, and even our progressive movements have primarily benefited some, while leaving others in the dust. To ensure that diverse voices are heard, and to ensure that everyone shares in the opportunity to thrive, we must continue to connect, to exchange ideas, to understand one another, and to work together. We have seen examples of our potential for this kind of solidarity in response to COVID-19, and we must build on this momentum.
Fundamentally we cannot move forward without saying that everyone deserves liberty, everyone deserves to thrive in our society. And we will not compromise the lives of our most marginalized people in the name of progress.
To make systemic change, we need an army of ethical, imaginative, and enthusiastic people pushing on all fronts. We need people to use their voices, their votes, and their dollars to demand that those on the “inside” work for real change, while celebrating those positive changes. But this is not enough. Institutions of power, and the cultures therein, are not built for disruption even when society demands it. To overcome this inertia, and to overcome the injustices upon which many systems are built, we also need allies on the “inside” willing to recognize when critical structures are failing, with the creativity and energy to replace them with something entirely new. Inside or outside, we need you involved. Now.
There’s this fascination with grassroots, but I have to be bold on this, we need to seize power. We need not to be shy, as civil society, to get into politics.
Think big. Part of the multi-faceted crisis in this moment is due to a failure in imagination. We have to think big to make big changes. We have to think hard to make hard changes. Respond to this crisis with ambition, not retreat.
Interrogate what role you play in upholding harmful systems. Systemic racism is far deeper than far-right militias and tiki torches. Well-meaning people can and do contribute to systemic racism in complex ways. Strengthen your understanding. Listen to the oppressed.
Set goals, big and small, and celebrate wins. Progress serves as motivation. Define clear objectives, and make sure you celebrate successes along the way.
Don’t do it alone. Making change is hard work. As The Hon. Murray Sinclair reminded us, it’s important to build a personal support system to protect your own mental and physical health.
“Show up, show up, show up”. Find ways to be an ally, and do them. Figure out how you can move beyond beliefs and rhetoric to action and impact. Repeat.
Litigate. Your rights are enshrined for a reason. If they are infringed, you have a duty to protect them, and to strengthen them. Not just for yourself, but for your community, and for future generations.
Run for office. While flawed, our political institutions are powerful tools for change. A single ethical politician will not change the world, but what about 100? 1,000? 10,000? Be one of the many.
Act now. Literally now. Do one small, achievable thing in the next hour to take a step on the path of inclusion. Find out what is involved with running for a local office. Find a good resource on the Indigenous and/or colonial history of your place. Find an organization that shares your values and whose work you would like to support. We cannot wait until after the pandemic to start creating a more just and equitable society. Start now.
– Read the reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by Senator Murray Sinclair, act on its 94 calls to action, and listen to Dr. Yvonne Poitras Pratt from the University of Calgary explain the importance of Orange Shirt Day, which recognizes survivors of Canada’s residential schools.
– In his new book, Michael Sandel explores the central question of our time: What has become of the common good? The Tyranny of Merit is available now!
– Freidrich Ebert Stiftung partnered with CuriosityConnects.us to bring people from across the political spectrum and across the United States together for conversations on current affairs and identity. Watch the video highlights from Looking for America.
– Listen to the Economics and Beyond podcast. Every week, Rob Johnson talks about economic and social issues with a guest who probably wasn’t on your Econ 101 reading list, from musicians to activists to rebel economists.
– Read TwentyThirty, an online magazine presented by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. It sheds light on the social, political, and environmental challenges we face and features inspiring responsible leaders who are working to solve them.
Couldn’t join us for 6 Degrees? Catch up on who participated here, and watch all of the videos here. 6 Degrees is an ongoing forum, so follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for resources, news about upcoming events, and inclusion news from around the world.