• Riley Mitchell

The Importance of Today's Fight

The chaotic nature of our current reality has caused me to reflect on the many fights that exist throughout our world and thoroughly assess what defines a a noble, yet effective fight. Growing up, I perceived fighting to be an inherently negative thing as it was associated with war and suffering. It was something that was rarely justified and should be avoided at all costs. As I aged, I realized that this was a large misconception as there were so many important causes that desperately needed fighters. Now I know that fighting is a necessary part of the creation of change, but it must be approached properly if positive change is what we seek.

A noble fight, to me, is not a battle against someone/something, but rather it is a fervently displayed effort for the preservation or empowerment of a person, place or idea. Fighting is something to be proud of when done with grace and love, and if done well is what can and will change the world for the better.

The idea of what a fight is and should be happens to fit in very well with our current state of affairs. The COVID-19 pandemic is a war unlike any we have ever fought. We are facing an unprecedented crisis which is so far-reaching that there is nowhere in the world that has not felt its effect. Although some of us are better suited than others to handle the virus on a physical, biological level, no one is impervious to the impact this virus has already had on society as a whole. While hardships are always unwanted, there is beauty in the way that they have the capacity to bring us together. We are all facing the same hardship right now, and yet we still seem to be at war with each other rather than the very thing that is plaguing our world—the coronavirus.

This crisis has proven that it is human nature to attempt to mitigate our frustration by projecting blame and hatred onto the perceived cause of our negative feelings. Unfortunately, pointing a finger at initiatives (or lack thereof), leaders, and even entire countries and cultures for causing the severity of this pandemic seems to take precedence over most productive conversations. This behavior hinders our society's ability to heal and is a shameful display of fighting. No action, leader or country is to blame for this catastrophe. Even if they were, identifying a scape goat gets us nowhere. I’m not so bold as to claim that I have a solution to a worldwide pandemic. However, I don’t feel that it’s bold to claim that the solution lies not within expressing our anger or dissatisfaction, but in supporting and empowering each other on a global scale.

Now more than ever we need to let go of any resentment towards our neighbors and instead treat them with love and understanding. We are all soldiers wearing the same uniform; we are fighting the same fight. Standing together (each 6 feet apart) is what will prevent us from waving the hypothetical white flag. There’s no better way to pay our respects to those who have passed as a result of this virus than to fight against the virus itself rather than each other. Humanity is as resilient as ever and we have the power to not only withstand this crisis, but better ourselves as a result of it. This is only possible, however, if we choose to be peaceful fighters, fighting for each other instead of fighting against ourselves.

The difference I have observed between a harmful, unnecessary fight and a peaceful, justified fight is shown through the fighters' motivation. Many fighters are motivated by the belief that their adversaries' suffering will serve justice and therefore restore peace. The idea that with punishment comes peace, however, is flawed; retribution does not eradicate past suffering, but ironically only creates more. As I became a fighter myself, I realized quickly that I must have compassion for both the suffering party I fight for and the party that I fight against, even when they have caused suffering, in order to carry out my mission as a peaceful fighter. Though it seems counterintuitive to nurture those you feel are causing harm, it is important to realize that the people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need love the most. Today, my fights' motivations are rooted in empowering those who have suffered as a result of wrongdoings. They are rooted in restoring the earth and instilling equity in our society. Since shifting my perspective, I personally have felt much more empowered to achieve my mission and certainly have been more effective in doing so.

Love for our neighbors is what is at the heart of a noble fight. We are all fellow human beings who are inherently equal, therefore a successful “fight” is not against humans, but what drives humans to engage with and spread evil. It is done in this capacity for the sake of each and every one of us, regardless of our past actions and beliefs. May we have love for the good, the bad, and the ugly and strive to protect and serve what calls us to our fight.

We want to hear what your “fight” is and how you have approached fighting for your cause/how you plan to going forward. Who and what do you feel needs to be fought for? How do you think we should fight against COVID-19? Please email us at cssc@virginia.edu and let us know what your thoughts are. Eventually we hope to aggregate and share everyone’s responses, further bringing light to our respective “fights!"

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