The Danger of Complacency

It seems we have an epidemic going around. I am not referring to anything like the Zika virus or AIDS. Not even homelessness or hunger. What I’m referring to moves in the shadows and is based in the depths of human nature. What I am referring to is complacency, and it seems to be taking hold of America.

There is a mindset that simply because racism is different than it used to be, that it is no longer worthy of being called out for what it is. Just because Black people are not being lynched out right does not make it anymore acceptable to wave that Confederate flag and post flyers for the Ku Klux Klan. It does not make it any more acceptable to continue to kill us disproportionately and lock us up longer for a mild, non-violent offense than for a white man who rapes a woman. These things are all part of institutionalized racism and they are a very real problem.

One of the things I see in relation to this is apathy. Lack of interest. Disbelief that things “are really that bad”. People think that because they have not experienced these things first-hand, that surely, they aren’t problems. I won’t even go into the staggering amount of privilege that it takes to believe such a thing. What I can’t help thinking is how can you be so callous? How can you be so immune to the suffering of others that you would rather believe they are just making it up? We have let things reach a very dangerous level: Normalcy. We have become so used to seeing these blatant displays of racism and prejudice on a daily basis, we no longer think anything of it. We must always be outraged by injustice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We cannot be willing to let things slide simply because they do not affect us directly. One day we will look up and realize that we are all alone. And then they will come for us, too.

They say that those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it. Have we learned nothing from the Holocaust? What enabled Hitler to rise to power wasn’t the Nazis or those likeminded people. It was the majority of people who stood by and did nothing. Over six million Jews and countless others died because of a nation’s complacency. Because people sat around and thought, “well this doesn’t affect me. It can’t really be that bad. They must be overreacting.” These people chose to bury their heads in the sand rather than look around and say, “this is wrong! Attention must be paid!” Rather than fighting for their fellow man, they stood on the sidelines and let it happen.

This is exactly what we must not do today. We must listen. We must remove our heads from the sand (or our own asses in some cases), and we must fight on behalf of everyone. Bring into light the shadowy oppression that rules this nation. Let the voices of the oppressed be heard. Listen and believe your Black friend or your gay friend, or female friend. Listen to your oppressed friends and human family when we say to you, we are being mistreated. We are being oppressed. We do not have justice. We do not have equality. We do not have peace. Listen and learn. Do not let your head become so heavy that you sink back into the sand. Stand up and stand out. Be a fighter for your fellow human-kind. Just say no to complacency.