The times they beg for conversation. I don’t think there has been a long conversation with a friend that hasn’t eventually turned to where we are today. Not one. While we may not agree on everything. Far from it. We all agree (yes all) that things today are not what they should be. That today we are witnessing the decline of American society as we thought we knew it to be. With that said, there are folks who’s skin tones are darker than mine who blatantly, and rightfully, ask, “Where have you been?” This has been their life for years, generations even. So yes, where have I been? Every sentence I’ve typed, deleted, and typed again trying to answer that question comes up short. Very short.
So here we are today. Where…. the list of offenses are not needed. We know them all. We read them, we are appalled by them, and we live them. And they all come from fear which leads to misunderstanding and hate. They also come from greed and privilege and the inability or desire to share. They come from a “me first” belief.
“So what do we do?” many friends ask. We notice. We then speak up. And here’s the part that is so uncomfortable for so many of us, including me. We were raised to be polite. To mind our manners. To not speak back to elders. To believe what we’re told. To do as we’re told. Well, throw all that shit right out the window. These times demand that we literally toss all of it. Then we allow ourselves the right to speak up. And we do that in any way that feels comfortable… and hopefully ways that feel uncomfortable. Yes, we must be bold. We’re all on Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… Use it. Amplify the voices of those who’s voices our country chooses not to listen to. That is one positive benefit of white privilege for those of us who have that privilege. We can use our voices to amplify the voices of the voiceless. Call and/or write you representatives. Every day. Or at the very least once a week. Have their phone numbers on your contact lists so you can speed dial them easily. Don’t know who your state senators or representatives are? Google it. It’s easy. I promise.
Why? Why do we need to, yes NEED to, shift our social media away from just fun stuff to this much more serious stuff? As Clinton so famously said, “Because we can.” Yes that’s right, because we can and we must. We are beyond the point of what feels comfortable dictating our daily actions and speech. Those who are watching see the parallels to Nazi Germany and Mussolini Italy. The photos of kids and families behind barbed wire look like Japanese Americans in tents in deserts during WWII. We sadly and with shame see that the mindset of slavery and indigenous genocide has never really left. So do we NEED to do this? Do we NEED to go to where it feels uncomfortable? Yes, my friend we do. And we must.
Now, this call to action is really to my elder friends because we see it, we recognize it, and we have time to acknowledge it. One of the sentences I typed trying to give myself redemption for not speaking up sooner, decades sooner, was the reality of trying to scrap out a living and raise a family. It’s real and today it’s even more difficult and real then when I was in the thick of it. So elders, please join in. Put all your doubts and insecurities in a neat little box, step outside that neat little box and raise your voice. I remember discussing the Holocaust with a young student many years ago. He asked me what I would have done if I lived then and there. I was sure I would speak up. He was sure he would too. But really? Would we? So now the question is, “Are we?”
Pick something. Anything. The choices are wide open! Climate change, indigenous rights, black rights, stop taking kids from families on the southern border and locking them in cages and tents rights. Clean water rights, clean air rights, reproductive rights. Free speech. Freedom of the press. The list of violations is endless. So choose anything! But you must, we must, speak up. Because….when our grandchildren ask us what we would do. Well, we are answering them right now by what we are or are not choosing to do.
Peace and love (yea, that good ‘ole hippy shit still works)