Break the Silence

I’ve been emotional for the last several days. The events in Charlottesville have taken residence under my skin and I can’t seem to wash it clean. I feel dirty and ashamed. I was no where near Charlottesville on Saturday, but it touched me as if I were.

I could easily turn this into a political rant and spend my time pointing fingers and placing blame. But, my feelings have moved beyond Republicans and Democrats. This isn’t political to me. It’s human. It’s knowing that there are over 7 billion people living on this planet and I’m no better or worse than any of them. You can’t see me walking down the street and think you know who I am based solely on the pigmentation of my skin. Truth is rarely found on the surface.

My family is a hodgepodge of cultures. A little of this, a little of that all jumbled together like a beautiful piece of art. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Diversity has been an amazing teacher to me. It taught me to look deeply into a person to find out who they are. When I form an opinion about someone, you can be assured that I’ve based it on their character and not the color of their skin.

I have met a lot of people over the years. People of all cultures and religions. I didn’t get to know them by making snap judgements based on their appearance. I did it by striking up conversations. Asking about the country they are from and what it’s like there. Or about the significance of a religious holiday I was curious about. None of my questions were ever met with anger or irritation. Quite the opposite, actually. You’d be surprised how much you can learn by simply opening up a dialog.

As I sit here, I wonder how some people can go through life and not ever get to know someone that differs from them. I don’t mean some white guy at a warehouse who proudly announces he has “black friends” because of someone he works with and says good morning to every day. That isn’t a “friend.” That is merely a co worker. I admit that I tend to eye roll whenever I hear someone say that.

I saw a cute video today about a Pitbull and a cat who are the best of friends. They love each other. They play together, nap together and give one another kisses. Think about that for a minute and let it sink in. These are animals I’m talking about here. Yet somehow, this cat and dog have figured out what so many people are unable to. They liked each other and went with it…differences be damned.

You’d have to be wearing some pretty strong rose colored glasses if you can’t see can’t see how terrible all of this is. We’ve got bigotry rearing it’s ugly head all over the place. Its oozing through the world like a disease. It has found fertile ground and has flourished. It isn’t hiding behind the shed anymore. It’s right out front, by the mailbox where everyone can see it.

I believe the majority of people out there to be good and decent. But, too many of them remain silent when they need to speak out. The time for keeping our mouths shut is over. It has to be. You can’t sit there and confess that you love and adore your mixed grandchild, yet say nothing when something like Charlottesville happens. It doesn’t work that way. You are either against the idea of white supremacy or you aren’t. Ironically, this subject is black and white. There can be no grey.

It hurts my heart to think that someone could look at my niece and nephews and hate them. To think that their lives don’t matter and that they are somehow “less than.” There is absolutely nothing okay about that. Nothing! If you do not speak against this type of behavior, you may as well have been behind the wheel in Charlottesville or wearing that white hood.

When we say nothing, the bigots mistake our silence for support. When the hate is loud, we need to be louder. I’m not saying that you need to run out and protest. But, you can start at home or at your job. If one of your friends on facebook posts some white power rhetoric, say something. If someone at work makes a comment, say something. Don’t just nod your head as if you are in agreement simply because you don’t want to make waves.

This is the world we are leaving for our children. When we are dead and gone, they will be the ones sifting through the pieces of our failure and trying to make sense of it all. Make your voice heard. Do it every chance you get. Don’t sit idly by and think you don’t have anything to do with what is going on. You do!! Like I said before, there isn’t a grey area here. Your actions or lack there of will make a difference in one way or another.

I can’t force everyone to have the same thought processes that I do. And, I’m good with that. But, I can ask that you take a really deep look at yourself and your belief system. I don’t care who you voted for or what party you affiliate yourself with. I don’t care what color your skin is or which god you worship. If you care at all about humanity, it’s time for you to find your voice. Speak up and let the hate mongers know that you do not side with them. One voice may not hold much power on its own. But, millions of them in unity could be awe inspiring.

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