Pick a Side
The middle of the road is gone. It’s not truly like we didn’t know what side of the road we were on before but it didn’t have to be explicitly stated. We could live in our privilege communities, with peaceful non-confrontational interactions with our friends and family and be OK. But now it’s not OK to just be peaceful, now we have to confront, now we have to pick a side clearly enough for everyone around us to see it. This is terrifying.
The middle of the road was obviously very comfortable for most of us. I have never met anyone who says “I love confrontation!” People say, “I don’t like confrontation, I don’t want to stir the pot, what if someone gets offended?” So the conservatives and liberals and Republicans and Democrats and even the libertarians stood around at cocktail parties together and had our little conflicts and sometimes arguments they got a little heated but we didn’t make a humongous deal out of it because life was OK. And we could sit side by side of these “others” who disagreed with us feeling that they just didn’t see it the same, not as an ever widening gulf of opinion we could fall into. We could agree to disagree because we were not directly affected by our differences.
Now the universe is making us choose. You can no longer sit back and just have a mild opinion about one of these things that’s been happening in our country. Either black lives matter or all lives matter. Either immigration is OK or it’s bringing rapists into our country. Either gay marriage is OK or it’s not. Either women should be paid as much as men or they shouldn’t. We have to pick a very strong side now or be misunderstood. How do the shy ones and the quiet ones handle this? How does someone like me, who was taught to be hypervigilant about everybody’s feelings, allow herself to have a strong opinion? People might argue with me. Writing this blog might get someone, a stranger even, to write horrible things to me and tell me I’m wrong. I might find out a friend of mine is a vicious anti-Semite. But we have to pick a side now. The time to be calm and listen to all sides of the argument is over. There is only one “right” side for most of us.
I believe that the side I have chosen is equality, fairness, tolerance, and the right of all humans to have a good life. I believe and hope that the other side is just blind to what they are standing against. I believe that I have to stand up against anti-Semitism and racism and sexism. I believe I have to stand up against sexual harassment in every form so that women can live safely in the world. I believe I have to stand up for my children’s future so they can be in a world that actually mirrors the one in Martin Luther King‘s dream.
If I don’t choose this side, and clearly, then I am choosing the other side by default. If I don’t take a stand on the side of right then I am wrong. This is a scary and uncomfortable place for me because I don’t like to stir the waters either. It just so happens that I can put this choice into words on paper in a way people want to read. So I choose a side and I write about it. I put it out here and I make myself vulnerable to strangers attacking me. And if they do? Then I will have to believe that my side is worth fighting for. Because 10 or 20 years from now when my children are adults and inherit this crazy nation to run I have to be able to look them in the eyes and tell them that I chose this side. I chose the obvious side. I chose the right side. I have to be able to tell them this even if the other side has prevailed.