Dani Robbins

Questions without Answers

In Advocacy on June 21, 2016 at 8:05 am

I’ve been thinking and reading and trying to figure out how we, as a country, could have elected a presidential candidate from a major party who so consistently and regularly goes against the values and laws of our country, and instead foments hate. I’ve been trying to juxtapose that with the mass murders in Orlando and too many other places to name, the daily rape cases in the news (and not in the news), the shootings of unarmed Black men, the large and small comments that perpetuate the seeds of injustice and the everyday challenges of anyone who ever gets categorized as “other”.  I’ve elected to join the legion of writers who are using their voice to counteract this hatred in an effort to stem the tide. Once it’s in, I cannot have done nothing.  Can you?

We must each fight against hatred in all its forms. We must resist the urge to separate people into us and them. We must each use our voice to counter extremism and injustice at every opportunity, every time.

We cannot walk away and say “he didn’t mean it”, “she doesn’t really think that” or “that will never happen.”  We have to assume that he did mean it, she does think that and it will happen. We have to act. If not, we have missed our opportunity to prevent the unthinkable.

We must challenge the smugness – of others and in ourselves – that comes with hatred of another whom we do not know and about whom we have no direct information other than categorical. We must each ask ourselves and each other to dig deep and figure out why. Why does my being a woman, Jewish, Gay, Black, Liberal, Conservative or Muslim bother someone else. Why does that give them permission to think about me differently? What does it say about them and what does it say about me? What power does that offer to me? What can I do to counteract that hate before it becomes action?

One of the best lessons from the struggle for marriage equality was the lesson that the best way to change minds is one by one and family by family. It’s scary, and also necessary. Other isn’t some random person you don’t know.  Other is your cousin, your son, or your neighbor.  Once other is known, it’s a lot less scary.

Prejudice is what you think and discrimination is what you do; there is an opportunity in between for change. How can we encourage the change and counteract the hate?

There are white Christians who commit murder, rape, mass shootings, and acts of terrorism but other white people or random Christians are not blamed. Neither fact is even mentioned. Yet when a member of a minority faith or race does something horrible, it is a pox on all of our houses.

Everyone who is or has ever been a member of a minority group, any minority group, knows that once they start lining people up by their beliefs, gender, race, orientation, faith or any other grouping, they will eventually get to the group to which we belong. The hierarchy of oppression is real and there is certainly discrimination among our ranks that reflect the discrimination among the larger societal ranks, but don’t be fooled, when there are lines, we will all be in them.

If by some chance you’re not, you will be on the other side. Both will have soul searing ramifications and there will be no sidelines. That is why we each have to use our voice, now, to be heard. If you have never had to think in these terms, you are extremely fortunate because it’s terrifying. Consider it now and keep considering it as you move forward in your life. Use it to counteract the hate.

To my brothers and sisters, daughters and sons in Orlando, in Newtown, in Charleston, across the country and the world whom we so obviously cannot protect; to everyone everywhere who is struggling to be accepted on their own terms, for who they are, and safe in their own bodies, wherever they are, I stand with you.

I welcome your insight, your answers and your comments, with the understanding that hate will not be perpetuated here.

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  1. Love the post, Dani. However, I have a concerning question that all of us should ponder: “What if there isn’t one America with one set of shared values? What if we’re one big geographic country that has spun off multiple subcultures whose values systems are all slightly different and sometimes in conflict?” Here is another article to provide food for thought: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-11-nations-of-the-united-states-2015-7

    So, maybe this is more complicated. Maybe it is the manifestation of trying to bring competing cultures and values systems together into one big uber-culture, which results in conflict and sometimes even violence and hate.

    I once met a Canadian couple on vacation who laughed at the American ideal of “melting pot” (aka everyone agrees to become one or e pluribus unum). When I ignorantly said, “Isn’t that the same in Canada with all of your diversity coming together under one country and culture?” They were kind and simply explained to me that Canada is a mosaic, which is different than a melting pot, and people don’t need to give up their culture/ideas/values in a mosaic.

    I could go on and on, but as a member of the LGBTQ community I can honestly say Orlando was painful and a wake-up call. I now see that the path forward is harder than I thought. Because if I want to quash hate (which is simply an outcome of values systems clashing), then I need to love those people with different values systems and cultures than me. I’m left wondering if a national blanket solution to marriage equality was the right course of action? I’m wondering if a state-by-state legislative solution wasn’t a better course of action with the understanding it would likely perpetuate the segregation that has occurred since the beginning of our country and continues today?

    Thanks for standing with my community. if you want to help, I suggest you join me in my struggle in figuring out how to love those to hate us. This is going to be a difficult journey.

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    • Wow! That piece is fascinating and has clarified so many things for me that I have been pondering for years. Thank you for sharing. You are absolutely right and the journey ahead of us will be difficult, but we’re up to the challenge. There isn’t much alternative; the price is to steep to stay where we are.

      Onward, my friend! I’m happy to be on this journey with you!

      Like

      • I am going to have to disagree with you one one point. Hate is not an outcome of values clashing. Hate is a learned response and the coupling of disrespect with self righteousness. I’m not sure love is the answer. My goal is peaceful coexistence.

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