One Kind Thing

You are the one who stood by silently while someone told a racist joke. Maybe you even laughed.

You are the one who turned away while others beat up a queer guy.

You are the one who pretended not to know what was happening in the other room, while your frat brothers gang raped a drunk girl.

You didn’t actively participate, but you looked away. You allowed it to happen. And, by doing so, you gave the silent yet loud message that it was okay. That these things were tolerable.

This is the rallying justification given by many Trump supporters — that they themselves aren’t racist, or sexist, or homophobic. Hey, they have black friends, gay friends, they support women’s rights! They don’t think all Muslims are terrorists, or Mexicans are rapists.

They just wanted change; they were sick of the insider, establishment politicians. They thought Trump would be better for them job and economy wise. They are against abortion, even if they have to elect someone charged with child rape and who brags about sexually abusing women to show it.

Look, I get it. I understand that most Trump supporters are decent people who are just scared, or fed up, and wanted something different. While there is without a doubt that contingent of truly scary, hate-filled bigots in Trump’s camp — the white supremacists, the KKK, domestic terrorists — I do believe that the majority do not knowingly, consciously harbor hateful feelings toward those of another color, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

But, here’s the thing.

Silence is complicity. Being passive and apathetic says that you are in agreement. If you voted for Donald Trump, then your very vote says that, even if these things are not the reason you voted for him, they are acceptable to you.

Where is the humanity, the morality, the Christian values in that?

So don’t tell me how you aren’t a racist or a homophobe or a bigot. Don’t tell me how it wasn’t the platform of hate and prejudice and intolerance that you voted for. These reasons weren’t enough to stop you. And that will never be okay.

My grandfather, the single most moral, decent and least judgmental person I have ever known, once told me:

“Silence is acceptance;
Acceptance is condoning;
Condoning is validation;
Validation is agreement.”

So no, I don’t accept your rationalization, your justification. Supporting Trump, for whatever reason one wishes to give, tells me that you agree that these horrific affronts to basic human rights and decency simply don’t matter enough to you. You rewarded this man who ran on a platform of bigotry and hate with the highest position we have in this country. And so you are part of it now.

I have been called intolerant, hurtful and without grace, even by people close to me. My answer is that I will not graciously sit aside while hate and bigotry infiltrates this country at its highest level. If what I’ve said about this is hurtful to you, then I beg you to reconsider these values and where you stand on them — and if you clearly stand against bigotry and hate, please have the courage to stand up and say something. Even one thing.

And I suppose I am intolerant about some things. I am not intolerant about people who have different politics than me, or different religious beliefs, or different opinions. I’m not intolerant of people because they didn’t vote for my candidate. But I am intolerant in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia, white nationalism. I won’t apologize for that. I firmly believe it’s a line of human decency that every person should stand behind.

I have gay friends, Muslim friends, friends who are disabled, friends of color, who are telling me they are terrified. That they have cried to their white family members or friends and received zero compassion. Some have told me that they are afraid to even go outside in crowds sometimes. This is not the foundation of equality this country was built on. We’ve struggled too far, through a Civil War and civil rights and many other things; and yes, it feels like despair to watch so much of that slide backwards now.

I will speak out for my friends. I will speak out for myself. I will not sit silently, passively by and accept this. And, Donald Trump voter, I will speak out for you as well. For I do believe that most of you are well-meaning people who just got lost or dismissed it too much as reality-TV hyperbole.

Though we seem to be a broken nation at the moment, my great hope is that we can heal. I myself have gone through waves of emotion from numbness and despair to, I’ll admit, intense anger. But I’m going to put all that aside to move forward, and I hope you’ll join me.

I don’t want this Presidency to be one that further tears this country apart, pits family and friends against each other. We have too much to lose — mainly, our humanity. There is only a small fringe, I believe in my heart, that is truly filled with an agenda of hate. I believe that most people are good, if you invite them to be and give them a chance.

Therefore, I extend a message of hope and an invitation for all of us to speak up whenever we encounter injustice, racism, sexist, gay bashing or other inexcusable bigoted behavior. I invite us all to heal this nation with love and kindness.

For my part, I pledge to give the benefit of the doubt to each and every of my fellow Americans, and to move forward instead of being stuck — with the hope that each one will do the right thing and not accept an agenda of hate of any kind.

I pledge to do One Kind Thing every day, for my fellow humans on this earth.