Friday, April 14, 2017

The Appalling Silence of Good People

What we do to others, we also do to ourselves.

I can either be a messenger to my students and all those around me for social justice, diversity, and inclusion, and prepare my students for the intersectionality among cultures that is part of America’s past, present, and future, or continue to hold on to the white privilege that I don’t deserve.

I can preach that same-sex marriage contributes to a greater conversation of the fullness of love among people and between individuals — that condemning same-sex love and attraction as anything less than heterosexual relationships attacks the very concept that love is something that all people are worthy of and deserve. Or I can sit and wait, hoping for the increasing inevitability that legally I will be able to marry, but live with the fact that my value as a person will be unequal based on stigma.

I can fight the use of words and phrases like “my country,” “illegal aliens,” or “go back to your home” that are thrown around at undocumented immigrants because they treat real live human beings as if they are anything less than a person, and remind my fellow Americans that our social, civil, and human rights are strengthened by offering them to all people — that all are deserving, or I continue to just be a white person who has an opinion when the issue comes to mind and is hollowly sympathetic.

I can ask those who have decided who is undeserving of equal rights — rights that they themselves have received based on their birth — to consider where we derive our freedoms, and how others obtain freedom, or I can continue to live without integrity and relish in the bastardized version of freedom I enjoy that I don’t deserve.

Every time I’m lukewarmly supportive, rather than being a passionate believer in social justice, I tell the world that I don’t care about others, and I certainly don’t care about myself. Dr. King had incredible foresight to notice how the Civil Rights Movement intersected across cultures when he shared that history would render judgement on a post-civil rights movement by saying in his Letter from Birmingham Jail that “we will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” I just can’t stand to be anything less than authentic. If any one of us truly believes and values the concept of liberty and justice for all, it starts from understanding that the most gift we give others is the brotherhood or sisterhood that is inextricably tied to humanity.

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