So far this weekend I’ve been laboring away at my designs for Peace Apparel Company which I plan on re-launching in the next couple of weeks. I was so excited to post about it tonight, because it’s such an accomplishment to me that I’m breaking past what I used to consider reasons I couldn’t accomplish this particular dream. But after finishing watching the documentary Half the Sky, I was bothered. And in my meditation tonight, I realized I have a bigger purpose and a bigger mission – we all do. So Peace Apparel Company is now also going to focus even more strongly on giving back than I’d originally planned.
Don’t get me wrong – most of us are absolutely in a position that if we don’t like where we are at, we can find what’s calling to us and we can change our lives. It just takes effort and drive from within us. One of the teachings in yoga is that all we need to be happy is within us. I love that. Because it’s true. And in Half the Sky, even these women in the absolute worst circumstances are still able to find happiness. But that brings me to the point that’s bothering me the most.
I think it’s sometimes hard for us to hear that the biggest obstacle in achieving a new life for ourselves, is ourselves. We live in places that we are blessed to be able to change our lives using only the tools within ourselves – persistence, effort and dedication. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s still possible. It’s not like that in every part of the world, and I think that since it’s so hard to recognize how lucky we actually are to be able to choose our own futures, we tend to ignore the fact that others may actually not have a choice at all.
There’s places in the world where before you can even make your own decisions, you are sold into your future. If you want to get out, you almost definitely will be killed. There are other places where it’s just expected that you follow in your family’s footsteps, otherwise you face abuse or again- you might be killed. And even further, there are places where if you aren’t entirely obedient it is expected you are beaten or killed – if not by your parents or your spouse, then their families will do it instead.
The sad thing is, this is just small number of things that happen for people who want to change their futures. It makes it a lot easier to look at the things that stand in our way – if I want to change my future, live a little more tightly financially and be a stay-at-home mom it would definitely take some explaining before my family understood. They’ve always been work focused and being financially comfortable is a high value. But I wouldn’t have to worry about being tied up and beaten for doing what I believe is right for myself, my daughter and my family.
I think another issue is a lot of us don’t know how to help. If you don’t want to volunteer to go out to one of these countries to do work, that’s completely okay! There are plenty of people who are willing. If you are – then you should look into organizations who send volunteers. If you are not – then you should look at other ways to support and give resources to the people who are being sent to help. It’s really that simple. For me, Peace Apparel Company is going to be giving part of every purchase to a charity to support change (of course I will be putting my own contributions in every month as well). That’s what I can do to help. Even just a little bit helps provide resources to making a difference.
Think of it like this – about 20% of families in Kenya live off of less than $1.25 a day. Suddenly that 3$ from your purchase seems like a much bigger difference. It’s the difference between if a girl has to submit herself to prostitution to support her family or if she can keep pursuing her education. It’s the difference between whether a mother can eat with her sons that night or if she will sacrifice her own meal to make sure that they are well fed.
To me this is crazy that people are forced to live this way, especially when we could be helping to change the norms in these areas just by giving resources to people who are willing and able to go in-person to help educate and lead change. We all deserve the freedom to be human.
I know this was a bit more on the serious side of things, but the more I centered myself in my meditation, the more I felt myself burning to do something. We can be someone’s difference, we just need to apply ourselves in even the most minimal of ways.
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela
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