This post is a bit of a departure for me, but it is one that needs to be written.
This week after the murder of Alton Sterling, several of my friends took to their social media accounts to record their thoughts. My African American friends used their words to urge us all to SAY SOMETHING. Yet even with their sadness echoing in my head and wanting to badly to SAY SOMETHING, I was not quite sure where to begin.
What I do know is that we are a nation in crisis.
We are in crisis when we think that patriotism means wearing a flag on our chests and eating hot dogs, rather than using our voices to defend our neighbors. When we can light fireworks on Monday, and shoot each other on Tuesday. When an African American citizen can’t drive down the street without fear of being shot by a racist with a badge. When a woman can’t go to a party without worrying about being raped. When we are not any more safe from international terrorists than we are from everyday psychos with guns. When we live in some archaic land where racism, sexism, anti-LGBT, anti-semitism, anti-anyone-who-isn’t-a-straight-white-anglo-saxon-male is the norm. When we think that it is no big deal to take a life, or to ruin one.
We are a nation in crisis when we act as bystanders, watching all this happen and SAYING NOTHING. We are in crisis, and it is NOT OKAY.
We are in crisis when our politicians are so easily bought, and when we can’t even find candidates we respect to run it. When our friends from abroad are watching this train wreck in absolute disbelief at what has happened to the good old U.S. of A. When they can’t bear to see what is taking place here, yet they find it impossible to look away.
We need to stop being bystanders, watching our nation unravel and SAYING NOTHING. We need to put down the damn hot dogs and open our mouths to speak instead. Maybe someday we can have a nation that is united, but certainly not if we don’t SAY SOMETHING. Not if we don’t, all of us, open our mouths and let others know that this is NOT OKAY.
We can and should live in a country where people have differing opinions, different religions, different color skin, and different ways of living. We can and should live in a country where an African American man can drive his car without fear of being shot by a law enforcement officer. Where a woman can go to a party without being assaulted. Where a mother can walk into a store with her child, without someone trying to steal that child away. Where people can’t get a gun as easily as a candy bar, and where taking another person’s life is categorically unacceptable. We can and should live in a country where tolerance, kindness, and open-mindedness are the norm.
Many of us who are parents think that creating change means raising our children to become adults who don’t act with the same bias that we see in today’s headlines. Yet creating change means STARTING WITH US. It means opening our minds, our hearts, and our mouths. It means leading by example and saying something NOW. It means doing something NOW. It means not simply standing by and letting all this happen anymore.
I don’t know where we’ll go from here. What I do know is that right now, in this moment, this is me, saying something. Because we are in crisis – and it is not okay.