What Happens When We All Do Our Part to Fix What’s Broken?

As good as our country is, it still has problems. Looking at all the injustices can overwhelm me. But what would happen if we all do something to fix what’s broken? #antiracist #BLM #fmfparty #Listen #agency #socialjustice #teacher #education

As good as our country is, it still has problems. Looking at all the injustices can overwhelm me. But what would happen if we all do something to fix what’s broken?

This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!

As good as our country is, it still has problems. Looking at all the injustices can overwhelm me. But what would happen if we all do something to fix what’s broken? #antiracist #BLM #fmfparty #Listen #agency #socialjustice #teacher #education

What Exactly IS Agency?

“Who can define agency,” I asked my students.

“Um. Like a detective agency?” one of them asked.

“Let me use the word in a sentence, and then tell me if you think it works,” I said. “For example, when you eat in the cafeteria, you have no agency.”

“Nope. Detective agency wouldn’t work at all.”

“I realize this isn’t an easy concept,” I told them. “But see what you can come up with.”

“Do you mean we don’t have any choice?” someone asked.

“Yes. You live at a boarding school, and you don’t have a lot of agency when it comes to what you get to eat.”

“We’re not gonna get a lot of control until we grow up,” another student  added.

“Exactly. Here’s another question. Do you like it when someone tells you what you need, or would you like the option to tell someone what you need?”

“What do you mean, Mrs. Ojeda?”

“If someone says, ‘I know what those poor Native American’s need, they need to just get jobs,’ how does that make you feel?”

“Bad.”

“Stupid.”

“Mad.”

“Right. When you stop accepting what other people say about you and how to ‘fix you,’ and you start telling people about the problems, you use your agency.”

“We can do that?”

Agency Means Listening Before We Try to Fix What’s Broken

“Yes! You NEED to do that. Otherwise, people keep trying to fix what isn’t broken and make you feel worse in the process.”

The bell rang and I rushed around to stamp planners. As a teacher, it feels like the past school year has brought out all the broken in our country. I feel overwhelmed when I think about how to fix what’s broken.

But our class discussion on agency made me realize we all have a part to play. While the world’s attention rests on the injustices, the brutality, the inequalities, we need to do our part to fix what’s broken.

We have a simple part to play: We need to close our mouths and listen. If we confuse ourselves with God by thinking we have the answers, we have a problem. We need to listen, really listen to those we want to help.

Because if we barge into the sacred space where the marginalized give voice to their opinions, we’ve made it about us and not about them. That won’t fix what’s broken. I could get depressed about all the bad in the world, or I can learn to listen.

I can do my part to teach my kids about agency, and make sure their voices get heard. What’s your part?

As good as our country is, it still has problems. Looking at all the injustices can overwhelm me. But what would happen if we all do something to fix what’s broken? #antiracist #BLM #fmfparty #Listen #agency #socialjustice #teacher #education
IF we want of ix what's broken, maybe we need to listen. #antiracist #socialjustice Click To Tweet

20 Comments

  1. The docs, they tried to fix me,
    they thought that I was stressed,
    and in their minds could clearly see
    that I must be depressed.
    They wrote Rx for Prozac;
    “You need it, I am certain,
    and we can workit back to back
    with lots of Oxycontin.”
    One looked at me with twinkling eye,
    and asked my if I wanna
    give the good ol’ college try
    to medical marijuana.
    I said no to the drugs and toke,
    ’cause cancer’s just a badass joke.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Don’t Do What I DidMy Profile

  2. It’s a hard one though. Cause what one person says is the answer, another will say no even though they are both people needing to be listening to well. So I think it takes more than just listening… but in sifting through. But perhaps we need to let the marginalized do the sifting through and the coming up with a first step. But to do so that doesn’t create marginalization in others….
    Annette recently posted…Broken within?My Profile

  3. A good reminder. Far too many “listen” only long enough to start building their response and stop listening. One skill I learned in my years in business was called “active listening.” This skill is learning to listen without building an answer. Rather, it is an opportunity to check for understanding. For example, after listening, state what you think you heard, and then ask, “Did I capture what was important?” or “Was that what you meant?” Only then does the speaker understand that you are trying to understand before you provide “solutions.”

  4. I think one of the hardest things for all of us is actually listening. We all seem to have our feet so firmly planted on “our” soil that we fail to allow even the idea that anyone else’s “soil” might have some measure of value. If we could just stop resisting and acknowledge that there is some value in almost every perspective, it would at least be a start. This was very thought provoking; well done. FMF#17

  5. Thank you for the wonderful work you do, Anita. I hear you.
    In India, the marginalized are women and those from the ‘lower’ castes – yes, it’s tragic how caste still has such a strong hold on our society. And it’s easy to try and solve people’s problems using a top down approach, but empowering them to find solutions and answers is the best way forward.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Broken OpenMy Profile

  6. The blame for the girl wielding a knife attempting to kill another girl doesn’t begin with the officer taking her life. It began long before she ended up in a foster home full of defiance, anger, and disregard for life. It began at home. Long, long before God created the church, or established Israel as a nation, before cities, God established the family as the basic unit of society. Parenting is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs ever. It is where we teach the love of self and others. It begins at home.
    Rhonda L Brown recently posted…Familiarity with the gospelMy Profile

  7. Listening well is our first step. Hearing the cries of the broken-hearted, being filled with empathy and lovingkindness, letting others know they are being heard, validating their very real emotions.

    And lots and lots of prayer for wisdom and opportunities.
    Linda Stoll recently posted…4 Serendipitous SomethingsMy Profile

  8. Wise words, Anita! Thanks for the word breakdown! How blessed your students are to have a teacher like you!

  9. “Because if we barge into the sacred space where the marginalized give voice to their opinions, we’ve made it about us and not about them. That won’t fix what’s broken.” Yes! Voices of the marginalized have been suppressed (or literally silenced as in the case of some Native American languages) in order to give unbalanced power. Your empowering voice will hopefully have long lasting implications.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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