I want people to realize the power that they hold – the power they have to truly make a difference and to build a better future. That is how we battle the decrease in participation, especially by young people, in our political and social systems; we help people to organize and build up community capacity in order to make concrete, substantive and positive change.
I understand my privilege as a cis-gendered, able-bodied male and as an intersectional feminist who identifies as gay. I recognize the many ways in which people are held back by socioeconomic conditions and oppressive social structures like racism, settler-colonialism, misogyny, ableism, heteronormativity, xenophobia and transphobia. As a result of my privilege, I have the opportunity to help empower and prioritize those voices that are so often silenced within mainstream discourse.
I live with anxiety and depression, which has contributed to me feeling cynical and disheartened at times. However, unlike many people today living with mental illness, I am privileged enough to get the help that I need. With the support of family, friends, some counselling and medication, I was able to change my thought patterns; I traded in the destructive, anxiety-inducing and depressing feeling of cynicism for a new sense of hope and determination to empower, not only myself, but those around me as well. Being engaged in building community has been healing for me as I have come to realize that we have no choice but to be hopeful and stand together for a better future.
Working as a farmer and as an avid gardener, I have learned the value of digging my hands into the soil and organically growing your own food. Riding my bike around town, I have learned the value of active transportation and simpler living in healing social ills. When we shop locally, shop less, share more and spend more time with those around us, we are building a better future.
I have learned that when we live sustainably, we are happier, healthier and more prosperous. When we talk to our neighbours, support those living in poverty and build community, we can create safe, healthy places to live, without the oppressive and expensive presence of militarized police in our neighbourhoods. We must stay vigilant and critical of those in positions of authority and those who enforce the law.
It worries me greatly to know that some people believe they are powerless to change the world around them. We have forgotten.
Together, we can build a future that’s better than our current unfulfilling consumer-capitalist-patriarchal and frankly, oppressive economic present; a future based on equity, social justice, peace, sustainability, participatory democracy and respect for diversity. So, my message to the world is to stay hopeful and remember that when we stand together, we are powerful.
– Keenan, passionate, idealistic, empathetic, earthy, open-minded, laid back