Saturday, February 24, 2018
I've been trying to write this blog for months. And then I find a meme that sums up everything I'm trying to say...
A hard lesson I learned even before the election of November 2017: people love a maverick... until they don't.
They love the person that is direct and outspoken - forthright - when the person is saying things they want to say but are too afraid to, because they are afraid of what people will say, or that they will pay a work, family or social penalty. They text that person that has spoken truth to power - or just said something in plain language that pulls apart a tower of bullshit - and say, "Thank you for saying that!" They may even text the person and say, "Would you go debate my cousin on my Facebook page? He's being outrageous."
But then the maverick says something that makes that one person, that supposed biggest fan, uncomfortable. Never mind that the maverick ALWAYS makes SOMEONE uncomfortable - this time, it's someone who never thought it would happen to him or her. The fan feels uncomfortable for the first time and then, suddenly, the maverick's straightforward, unfettered opinions are over-the-line. "Couldn't you have said that more nicely? Did you have to make the person feel stupid?"
There are people who have sent me a direct message on Facebook to thank me for my political posts, who have told me to me face-to-face they wish they could post the same things, who have taken my hand (yes, really) and said they are too afraid to even "like" the posts for fear of retribution from friends and family but they so appreciate what I say.
And there are people that unfollow and unfriend me for those exact same posts, and roll their eyes when they see me coming.
Some love what I do and who I am. They are comforted by it and tell me so.
Some hate it, and so never respond online, and actively avoid me in cyberspace. And, I've noticed, offline as well.
I wish the people that found me annoying didn't bother me. But they do.
In grade school, when I would study slavery in the USA, and the Holocaust in Europe in the 1930s an 40s, and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, I would wonder why more people during those times didn't speak out about the oppression, the violations of human rights, the murders, the injustice, and I would think, well, if I had lived there and then, I would spoken out, I would have marched, I would have worked to change things, I would have been Victor Laszlo.
Welp, here's my opportunity - and everyone else's - to see just what kind of people we would have been in those times. We now have THIS time, now, with women's clinics being forced to close by state legislatures and women being forced to carry all pregnancies to term as a result, with people not being able to afford to rent even a tiny apartment, with people working 40 hours or more a week and still not having enough money to feed and house their families, with a man in the White House who is an admitted sexual predator teasing that he wants nuclear war and regularly insulting black Americans, with millions of people losing their health care, with public schools further under attack and further under-funded, with white men shooting up concerts and clinics while the President refuses to condemn their actions or their politics, with neo Nazis marching in the streets, with families are being torn apart and children left without parents via deportations, and on and on.
I have a lot of friends, associates and neighbors who haven't at all been affected by what's happening politically - they still have their health care insurance and access to health care, their pension is protected, their families aren't in danger of being stopped by police for no good reason or any family members being deported, they won't be targeted by predatory lenders, they don't have family members in jail for minor drug offenses, they don't have family members addicted to opiates and with no access to treatment, they would have access to abortion services if they need them, they have access to birth control, they have access to high-quality education for their kids, they own their homes and can make mortgage payments, and on and on. Some of them do speak out. Most don't. Some who are silent seem to flaunt the fact that they are able to not worry about politics.
To not have to be worried about what's happening in the White House, Congress and the state legislature is a privilege. That's what privilege is. You can't bristle at the idea that you are privileged if your health, safety, economic prosperity and future are safe under Donald Trump.
I'm not asking anyone to embrace the words of Jesus Christ and give up their homes, their wealth and jobs and spend their time 24 hours a day working for the sick and the poor. I notice there aren't many Christians asking for that either, BTW. I'm not asking that both because it's not practical and because I'm an athiest. But if you are being silent about what is going on right now, if you are smirking "I just don't want to be political right now, it's so exhausting," then you ARE part of the problem. And you can't sit this one out and think that's okay and then balk when someone calls you privileged.
But enough about you. Let's talk about me again.
I'm ardent. That's my word. Ardent. Until I was 30, I would say my word was confused, because that's how I felt most of the time. I still feel confused a lot of the time. And insecure. But the word that feels like me the most these days, and has for many years, is ardent. And I want that word to be mine for the rest of my life. Because when I decide I want to dial it back, that I want to be quieter, and less outspoken, and when I avoid confrontation at all costs, I end up being MISERABLE.
I never bring up politics in face-to-face settings unless someone else does. Never. But I will respond if someone else brings it up. Sometimes, my response is, "I can't listen to this" and I walk away. Sometimes it's looking something up online on my smartphone to counter an argument. But I still believe that silence means approval. And I will not be silent.