Any student of history recognizes the truth that there are times in history in which neutrality is not an option, in which silence connotes acquiescence. This isn’t to say that we should all be hitting the streets and marching to protest the hatred and bigotry extant today (though that’s certainly not a bad idea). We all have a voice, and it’s incumbent upon us to use it to do what we can to make this country a better place.
Using our voice will mean different things to different people. This is how I’ve chosen to use mine. I’m not certain how much of an impact I make, but I choose even a minimal impact over silence.
This moment in time presents us with a challenge I suspect few of us ever thought we’d face in our lifetimes. Hatred and bigotry have been unleashed upon this land and sanctioned at the highest levels. White nationalism, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and other exclusive philosophies are finding fertile ground into which seeds are being planted. We can mutely sit on our hands as our leaders work to create a world in which Conservative White Christians place themselves at the top of the political/social/ideological food chain. We can claim to not have a dog in this fight because it doesn’t impact us directly.
Here’s the problem with that argument: hatred and bigotry absolutely impact us directly. If you subscribe (as I do) to the philosophy that if one person isn’t free, then NONE of us are free, it’s in our own best interests to work for justice. Equality- regardless of race, creed, color, or sexuality- should be unquestioningly accepted as the baseline. It should be something we could take for granted. Human nature being what it is, though, there will always be those who seek to pit one group against another in order to advance their own agenda. They choose to divide us based on our difference rather than celebrate what we have in common- our humanity.
No, we don’t all have to march in protest, but I believe we do have a responsibility to future generations to ensure we hand over an America in which the content of one’s character is all that matters. We have a responsibility to work to defeat hatred and bigotry…and only when victory has been achieved will we be able to relax. We’re not nearly as far down that road as we might have thought before Donald Trump sanctioned hatred, bigotry, and White nationalism.
What’s it going to be, America?