My plan this week was to write about Oceanfest, our July 4th, Shark Week, some products I like, etc. Then this week actually happened, and I don't want to write about anything really. I don't even know what to say. I've even typed and deleted here numerous times. I'm just staring at my laptop screen and I feel like I have a platform here to say SOMETHING. I just don't know what. Because everything is intertwined. Racism, sexism, politics, anti-semitism, email servers, social media, shootings, guns, police, anti-police, death, live streaming. Live streaming murder. Actual, murder.
Has the world gone mad? That's a serious question. Well, a serious rhetorical question. It seems as though the world has really gone mad.
I saw this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King this morning and it holds true-
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It's simple and it's true. I don't know why this is such a hard concept to put into play. I feel like what's going on in the world right now just goes to show how most people are sheep. How easy it is to brainwash people and get them into racism, hate, violence, religion, violence in the name of religion. It all starts with people who are desperate for something. To believe, to belong, to have a group. To have their feelings validated. That desperation can be turned into good, or it can be turned into bad. Often, it's bad. Right now, we're all experiencing REALLY BAD. People are angry, reacting, and it's a vicious cycle of emotional reaction.
I didn't really watch the news yesterday, like I usually do. I'd already spent the first half of the week unfriending anyone posting racist, misogynistic, and/or perpetuating untrue, not fact-checked political statements. Now I'm spending the end of the week doing the same, with more to come. If you see you're no longer friended to me, rest assured, with no mistake, this is why. By posting what you're posting, perpetuating what you're perpetuating, your hands are bloody too and you're an embarrassment to the America you say you love so much.
Unfortunately in the social media world we live in, most of what I see are angry, unfunny memes that are aggressive, nasty, and often untrue. Things I don't want to be associated with. So, bye. Bye Felicia. One of them was a former neighbor of mine that lived across the street from the house I grew up in. He joined a conversation, that while public, he had no connection to (besides being friended to me), on the Facebook page of a friend of mine. He came in aggressive, full of piss & vinegar, just calling people ugly names, and telling us we're all stupid. Yes, we're all emotional. This is an extremely emotional time. There is still a way to speak to people. I don't know how anyone expects to have any intelligent conversation when that's how you come across. Not to mention, you immediately lose any credibility when you have anything on your page with the word "libtard".
It's not about only wanting to be friends with people who think like me. In fact, I have recently become closer to a new-ish friend who couldn't be more different in many views, but she has a respect and open-mindedness that I find really interesting and attractive. She isn't adversarial and really wants to hear the opposing view, and my reasons for why I think differently. This makes me want to hear her views. We have very long, very deep, philosophical conversations, from politics to religion (she's a very practicing Catholic). At the end of every conversation, I'm left with an appreciation and even stronger interest in what she has to say. I think she's fascinating. I have other friends who have differing views but also are respectful and can have discussions without anger and vitriol. It's an actual exchange of ideas without hate. I only wish I encountered this type of exchange more often than not.
Of course tensions are high. I feel like we're on the cusp of a crazy racial, religious revolution, in the scariest of ways. What people don't seem to take into account though, is that we're all intertwined. If we acted like we are intertwined, we'd stop killing each other. When someone says "Black Lives Matter", it's not about black people "mattering more" than other people. It's not about all lives mattering. That's a given. But black people have an actual problem here that is separate from all lives mattering. To me, what it's saying is- "We matter TOO. Please stop killing us". Yet- people are missing the point and just running with it as "what about us- white people". No. It's not about white people because it's a fact that white people are not targeted like black people are. I have friends who are scared for their husbands who are black and their kids who are biracial. That's a real fear. It's not made up. I don't have that same fear for my white kid. I have that fear for my white Jewish kid, but not my white kid that no one knows is Jewish from his outsides.
There is another quote, by Pastor Martin Niemöller, that's on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum-
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I always think of that statement. I think of this when I see people being quiet about atrocities around them. When I get asked why we go to the PRIDE parades if I'm not gay and I don't have a LGBTQ kid. Well, I always have been for the underdog. It's in me to stand up for those who need help, can't stand up for themselves, and/or, for those who need a bigger group behind them to get the treatment they deserve.
I have gone to a few small rallies outside Congressman Scott Garrett's (R-NJ) office. One for gun control and one for marriage equality. It took a short amount of my time. Yes, I had to leave work for awhile, but it was worth it. Just sharing stupid memes on Facebook isn't being an activist. It's not doing anything. I know there were plenty of people who say they're for gun control and marriage equality, but just didn't feel like getting out there. You have to BE part of the changes. They're not just going to happen with a magic wand.
I don't have all the answers. I don't do the maximum amount I probably could. But as I've learned from my friend Cohen, you do what you can do. And that's definitely more than sharing ignorance on social media.
I don't want kids getting shot in schools. I don't want little kids having to do drills to know what to do if there's an active shooter in their building. I don't want swastikas carved into park benches in a neighboring town with references to Hitler-speak. I don't want black kids getting shot on the street for wearing hoodies. I don't want black men getting shot for doing what they're supposed to be doing. I don't want police getting shot. I don't want anyone getting shot for just living their lives, minding their own business. Just because you don't want black people shot for no reason doesn't mean you hate police. We need police. We need good police. We need people to care about human life beyond whether it starts at conception or not.
I said I didn't watch the news yesterday, except for two different times in the day, for about ten minutes each. In that twenty minutes, I saw enough horror for a lifetime. I was heating up dinner for E and I before a house call at 6:30p. World News Tonight was on with David Muir. That's a staple in our house. The first story was Philando Castile. E and I watched that live stream video- that video of outright murder, in front of his girlfriend and her child, in absolute horror. I didn't have words so I just turned it off and we had to run out the door, without either one of us processing it. I don't even know how I would actually process it. It makes no sense.
Then I turned on the tv out of habit, at around 11:10p where the story was people running for their lives in Dallas as people were getting picked off with a rifle, like in the movie Higher Learning. Except it wasn't a movie and this time the target was law enforcement.
Black, police, kids, or any other group, this is unacceptable. We are in such a volatile time, I don't know that anyone should have guns. No until somehow people just calm the F down. Yeah, yeah, that whole 2nd Amendment thing. The 2nd Amendment is about not giving all the control to the government. Well, guess what- the people aren't smart, sane, competent, or rational enough to have the control. Right now, the general public shouldn't be able to get water guns, let alone ones with actual ammunition.
A friend of mine, in a message board forum we're in, wrote today- "I feel like a war is coming and no one cares". That's how I feel. Exactly. I'm not so much scared as I am sad. I'm sad for the ugliness. I'm sad for the families with dead husbands, sons, significant others. I'm sad for dead police. I'm sad for lack of respect for life in general.
We're all supposed to be ONE. One, indivisible, with justice for all. And we're just not. We can't pretend anymore that we are. Maybe if recognize how divided we've all become, we'd be able to repair? I don't know. We can't just sit around doing nothing, waiting for Kim Kardashian's next Instagram photo. Or Kanye's next tweet. What does make me fearful, is the twenty-four hour news cycle that seems to desensitize us, quickly, to all this murder and suffering. We need not be desensitized. We need to feel each and every story. Each and every senseless maiming and death.
We aren't on teams. Race, religion and politics aren't teams that you join, ride or die. We're supposed to be paying more attention. Not just voting down a ticket because that's our "team". In politics, I don't even know that any of us should want to be associated with any of the teams we currently have as choices. We're not supposed to just blanket stating groups of people with words of hate. Not just interpret religious scripture into versions of hate. Not just decide the bad choices of some are a reflection of all. Not taking words written hundreds of years ago and twisting to suit the deep pockets of today. We're supposed to be thinking about the big picture. The greater good for all people. Not just saying- "This works for me. For my team. We're good here.".
If you see what's been happening the past few days as strictly blue vs. black, as one set of lives being more important than another, then I feel sorry for you. If you're only angry about one group humans being killed senselessly, then I feel sorry for you. If you are rooting for any other team than Team Human, I feel sorry for you. Those, on their own, are all little picture. Your little picture thinking is what exacerbates the problem. You are part of the problem.
Talking shit about how the violence will end when this POTUS administration is over is just foolish and incorrect. Feel free to hate on the President. I hated on Bush. But blaming the President for what's gone on in the past few weeks is just weak. Obama is not the giant puppeteer in the sky using those individuals making poor life choices as marionettes. #ItsObamasFault is getting way tired.
I know this is somewhat vague, but there are too many topics to cover and I really don't want to write about them all separately, because they ARE all intertwined. So take from this what you will and hopefully you will decide to become part of the solution vs the problem.
This is not the world I want my son to grow up in. I know I will make sure I stand up and be an example of one who refuses to accept hate and ignorance and sweep it under the rug. I can only hope more people stand up and do the same.
*Please forgive typos or spelling errors. Spell Check is broken.