I am a writer and an artist. I’m in the habit of observing the people and world around me. Over the years, I’ve become aware of a lot of problems in our society. These issues I see have been going on long before Donald Trump dominated our media cycle. If I had to summarize the essence of America’s problems in one word it would be: greed. Selfish desires present in a variety of ways in the United States, ranging from entering politics to satisfy someone’s intense need for power to unnecessarily taking advantage of the welfare system at the expense of hard-working people. Greed is evident in many segments of our society. Fatalism, cynicism and negativity would be an easy reaction to the resulting social problems I see. I could easily spend the rest of my life doing writing and art fueled by the negative energy around me. But I wanted to find a more effective way to respond to social and political issues, so I started MELT.
MELT stands for “Make Every Life Thrive.” And by “every” I mean every life: white, black, male, female, straight, gay, Christian, Muslim, Republican, Democrat . . . peace recognizes no differences between human spirits, which are equally deserving of respect. The acronym is a reference to a new “melting pot” concept where individual lives of varying backgrounds and beliefs thrive in the space we share, while all that is being removed from the resulting stew is hate and fear. While the concept has been brewing in my heart for years and I started this blog a year ago with the hope of generating a conversation about creating peace in our society, the harmful rhetoric and behavior displayed during the 2016 U.S. presidential and congressional campaigns, and the results of the elections, made it clear to me that it was urgent that I actively attempt to do whatever I can to help those who feel marginalized in our society. I’ve had enough of the proliferation of hate and fear in my country. MELT is my effort to give exposure to positive thoughts and actions, create a dialogue and mutual respect between people of differing beliefs and backgrounds, and provide opportunities for peaceful interaction and contribution.
The creative person in me believes that there is a solution to every problem I see. None of society’s problems are too big to solve just because they haven’t been solved yet. It’s my hope that MELT’s members will help find new ways to address and solve some of society’s problems by meeting people where they are, instead of where they would like them to be. Much of our country’s lack of social progress is due to the belief that “they” should be like “us.” This type of conforming thinking guarantees division and prevents constructive action. There is a rampant unwillingness to hear about “different” experiences and listen to other peoples’ concerns. MELT’s mission is to answer hateful rhetoric and violent behavior with a narrative and actions that promote well-being, inclusiveness and equality. MELT will try to help make every life thrive in America by acknowledging social issues, inspiring change, and taking creative steps to make a lasting difference in people’s lives.
Social issues seem to remain unaddressed by our society until we put a human face on them. One way we can remedy this is by giving a voice to those who feel marginalized and silenced. I have a blog on my MELT website that invites others to share their experience in America and their ideas for improving society. I want MELT to share the stories of those who are suffering, but also want it to write a new chapter concerning creating new ways to actively help.
Groups remain targets for racism, bigotry, and discrimination until their attackers see a relatable thread of humanity in their victims. MELT wants to inspire a change in attitude by encouraging mutual respect. MELT has started doing this by creating simple animations with powerful messages. They are intentionally limited in word usage as a direct response to the overwhelming amount of political noise being generated by canned, recycled statements that are causing predictable partisan knee-jerk reactions and are getting in the way of cooperative efforts. MELT also hopes to produce mini-documentaries, video diaries, and PSAs that spread peace-inspiring messages.
By highlighting what people have in common, I want MELT to make a lasting difference in our society. There is a seeming disconnect between cause and effect in our country as people perpetuate hateful beliefs from behind the safe shield of social media and in private conversations with their like-minded peers. I want to create opportunities to be held accountable for our words by bringing together people who inflict pain with the targets of their abuse. Participation in dialogue about the effects of hurtful words can only happen for some people when they become a captive audience. This “captivity” could be created through common interest gatherings – such as sporting events, art shows, concerts, gardening clubs, volunteering together . . . People have far more in common with other people than they realize because of the humanity that unites us. It is only when we come together with people who appear different and we are forced to get to know them on a personal level that this becomes evident for some.
It’s easy to believe that social activism is only for certain people. I would like to use MELT to change America’s mind about that. I want to generate messages about how each citizen can do something to make a difference. The messages would be spread via creative marketing that gets people to take notice of the concept. Through MELT I would like to encourage people to discover that they each have skills that can be used to enhance someone else’s life. We are all in this American situation together, and together, we can each make a difference in how we proceed as a nation.
MELT is on its first step to what will possibly be a thousand mile journey to peace in the United States. And I hope other people will consider joining me.
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© 2017 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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