How do we want to coexist with one another?
What does a world where everyone is treated equally actually looks like?
The answers to these questions are important for how we interpret the UN Sustainable Development Goals and take action to achieve equality around the world. The key to sustainable peace for all ultimately lies in the hands of governments, community-led movements, organizations and the people. We are all connected and our actions have a direct impact on one another. We no longer exist in silos and our approach to helping achieve the UN SDGs needs to be just as interconnected.
The Coronavirus pandemic has unmasked and exacerbated a great deal of inequalities in our society in regard to race, income, healthcare, housing and resources. Although it has completely disheveled the lives of so many people and nations, it has also sparked unprecedented forms of community-level initiatives. People of all backgrounds have learned how to come together through collective action to help those most in need. This pandemic is an opportunity to have more conversations on pre-existing inequalities and figure out new ways of engaging with each other in the “new normal.” In order to move forward meaningfully, it is important to examine our world closely and take note of what is working and what is not.
An important focus of SDG #10 is to “empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status,” according to the main tenets. Reducing inequalities is a complex, intersectional goal that encompasses many economic, social and political components that are deeply embedded into how many governments and societies function. Major issues like institutional racism, patriarchy and the heteronormative gender binary have been legitimized through both legislation and social norms. While trying to end prejudice and combat these colossal pain points in our world, we must acknowledge and understand our histories. We must actively fight against discrimination today and reconcile with these harsh truths in order to seek justice and sustainable peace.
As important as it is to hold our world leaders accountable for alleviating these problems, there is also power in dismantling these systems of oppression through meaningful interpersonal dialogues within our own communities. By bringing people together and actively listening to one another, we can better understand each other and rid ourselves of the fear of “other.” Love is the ultimate combatant against hate and ignorance. By approaching each other, our planet and these issues from a place of love, it leaves room for grace and a deeper understanding of those who may be different from ourselves. This will carry us all forward in the collective fight to end inequality in all forms.
“We are here to heal, not harm. We are here to love, not hate. We are here to create, not destroy.” - Anthony Douglas Williams