Today, I was going to share the details about a wonderful weekend away that the hubster and I took in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Seems a bit untimely now considering everything that has happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s so easy to shove aside the tragedies of the world and go back to your normal, everyday life when they aren’t right at your doorstep. I often find myself asking, is that really what it takes? It personally has to affect you before you say something? (By the way, this goes for me too. I feel a deep sense of accountability for not doing and saying more over the years.) Yet, I still feel enraged at how nonchalant people, friends and family are when national tragedies like this happen.
The water cooler commentary on Monday morning. The “It’s so sad, isn’t it?” line at your kids soccer games. The small talk about the tragedy with the cashier. The thoughts and prayers for the dead.
Carry on as usual.
That sort of complacency is what allows the fear-mongering, hate-filled, nazi, white supremacists to show up, tiki torches in-hand, at a public university in America. In 2017.
I very much remember learning about the Civil Rights Movement in school. Do you? What did you feel? I remember flipping through the pages of my history book seeing protestors and allies and heroes, flanked on either side, or alone in a jail cell, opposing racist rhetoric and knowing they stood on the moral side of history. These activists aren’t viewed in history as radical. They did the right thing. So, what are you so scared of today to simply say something?
Do you fear rocking the boat? Is doing what’s morally right rocking the boat to you? Do you fear that distant racist cousin may disagree with you? Are you okay being associated with that? Do you fear your friends may make fun of you? What sort of friends are those?
Or do you fear the whole conversation may just make you uncomfortable? And who likes feeling uncomfortable…?
What a nice privilege it is to have the ability to avoid feeling uncomfortable and carry on, life as usual. Perhaps I should use a different term, one that may make people less defensive. How very blessed you are. What a blessing it is, indeed.
I’m not sure the family of Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who was run over and killed by a white supremacist, has quite that luxury today.
By saying nothing, you are doing just that. Nothing. Express your outrage. Getting involved, joining a local group is even better, sure. But for compassion’s sake, for the difference between right or wrong, choose to say something. Beyond just how sad it is. Call these white supremacists and nazis what they are – evil.
Don’t know what to say? Share this blog post. Don’t know how to get involved? Use that Google box.
For a country that knows how to find a Halloween costume for their cat (guilty), we sure act all bewildered when wondering what we can do next in the face of racist acts. Look up local social justice groups, local racial justice groups, local ACLU chapters…do I need to go on? You’re equipped to do it. So, do it.
Say something. Identify yourself as someone who whole-heartedly does not agree with what is taking place. This is not about party lines. This is about your moral obligation as a human who shares the same space on this great earth with other humans, to stand up when some of them are being wronged…or killed.
People know where I stand.
I’m sure some even have unfollowed or unfriended me–good. That bullshit isn’t welcome in my life. I’m sure a lot of us have witnessed and heard those funny-haha political remarks, the “Oh, I’m just saying it to get under your skin,” jokes. What do you do? I know I could do more and say more, even with people knowing where I stand.
So, why don’t people know where you stand? If you think they do, then why are they comfortable making racist remarks in front of you? Say something.
Say that racist, bigoted, neo-Nazi, white supremacists (and their jokes) are not welcome here, and tell your children the same so they know which side you stand on. If you can’t say it, or tell others that you feel that way, dig deep and ask yourself why you’re okay with it then, because that’s exactly what you’re saying, when you say nothing.
Complacency is easy. It’s also a
blessing privilege. Which side do you want to be on when they’re writing this chapter in the history books that your children and grand-children will read?