How many more? You can fill in the blank on your own. How many more people will die at the hands (or knees) of law enforcement officers? How many more cases of coronavirus will be recorded in the United States? How many other cities and towns will be the site of unrest and protests against an unjust system? How many more Americans will die from or be disproportionately affected by COVID-19? How many more people will face an uncertain economic future because of unemployment? How many more children will be food insecure tonight?
Before anyone thinks this column is either supporting or criticizing the Democrats or Republicans, it is not. Rather, this is a call to professional counselors and counselor education students to continue your work to advocate for those who depend on you for services. It seems as though every single day, we learn about yet another horrific incident that serves as a challenge to social justice, care and compassion for our fellow human beings. We all need to do what we can to ensure that true systemic change can be realized. In many cases, that begins with those who have no direct relationship to counseling, despite the fact that their actions affect millions of the clients and students you serve. I’m talking about public policy officials, specifically those elected to represent our interests.
Those of us with the privilege to vote need to exercise that right in 2020. We need to do so now more than ever if we support true change in the social systems that have been built over hundreds of years — systems that have evolved into machines that oppress, denigrate, disenfranchise and marginalize.
I know I have been blessed and hold immense privilege in terms of my education, my career, my home, my well-stocked refrigerator and my ability to go to sleep each night feeling safe and secure. Those of us who find ourselves in this position can no longer simply say, “That’s really unfortunate for those who don’t have what I do.” I know so many of you do so much in your current jobs and internships. I know you are caring, compassionate, and dedicated to helping clients and students overcome life’s challenges.
And, now, here I am, asking you to do even more. This doesn’t mean that you have to do everything, but maybe you can do just one more thing. This could involve one of the following (or something else of your choosing): contributing $5 of items to your local food bank, donating an item to a local homeless shelter or casting your vote in the upcoming election. I hope this isn’t too much to ask of a group of people who are so incredibly committed to serving clients and communities. Just think about this one example: If every ACA member made a $5 donation to a local food bank, that would equal more than $250,000 worth of food — which would equate to nearly 650,000 meals!
As Desmond Tutu once said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Our society is at one of those crossroads at which we all need to step up, speak out and advocate for what we know is just. I hope you will join me in doing that extra something during this time of profound need. In fact, I would love to hear from you about what you are doing because it is so uplifting to know that we are all in this together.