I’ve been struggling with writing this all week. I’ve been dismayed at the hatred and vitriol that is coming from my friends, colleagues, and the politicians I support, in the last few weeks. The shooting at the baseball field was kind of the last straw for me. WTF?
If we begin to act like the worst of them we are no better than the then worst of them. My wise friend, Maggie McNeil said several months ago (when we were talking about the rise in hate speech and hate crimes from the right, immediately after the election) that anger and fear when allowed to ferment becomes hatred. And that’s when I made a choice to not hate, no matter how unhappy and tired and fed up I was with the current political situation. And I’ve stayed true to that (it’s why I started posting jokes every day on my Facebook page). It’s not been easy.
I have to constantly remind myself that no matter how despicable an action is or hate-filled someone else is I cannot be part of that hate rhetoric. I remind myself that those who are spouting rightwing hate speech were babies at one time and were innocent and pure until something or someone twisted them (even Trump as hard as that is to believe at times). I remind myself that while many on the right are committing hate crimes and inciting violence (and now it’s even something many on the far left are doing) that there are more people who truly want to find a way for us to work out our differences and to move forward as a united country, not the divided one we currently inhabit. I remind myself that some of the Trump supporters are people I love (much of my family) and that while I can be sad or even angry about their actions and support of this man, I don’t hate them or quit loving them. I remind myself that my left leaning friends who are currently spouting hate and are wishing the other side would just go away (or die as one of my close friends said recently) are good and loving people who are just so caught up in the fear and anger that currently encompasses our world (not just our nation) that they are filled with that fermented hate and are not speaking from a rational place.
Oh, and the various communities I belong to and the people who I care about, oh they are breaking my heart with the horizontal violence which seems rampant these days. The fighting and anger over the pride flag; the shit that has gone down at Evergreen College; the cis vs trans conversations happening all over Facebook; the feminist who are against decriminalization of sex work; POC marginalizing other POC because they don’t all agree; our elders chastising our younger community members for not treating them with respect while disrespecting the younger members current journeys; our younger members negating the perilous journeys their elders took that got us this far in civil, LGBT and women’s rights. I could go on and on.
I don’t know the perfect solution and I have a few suggestions.
I wrote a keynote speech for International Ms. Leather Contest where I talked about horizontal violence in the BDSM community (you can find it here on my blog). I proposed that one way to stop the horizontal violence was for us to talk. To get to know each other. To realize that we are all humans. To take the time to talk to each other. To listen. REALLY LISTEN! We have to quit the infighting and horizontal violence and realize that we (I’m speaking about liberals here) all have many common goals and that while we have some differences we have more similarities. We have to work together to change the world.
We also need to talk to those who differ politically from us. We need to find our common ground (and believe me, no matter what you think, we do have common ground with many who we deem on the right). We lost the last election because partly because we did not reach out to those in the Midwest who were fearful and angry. We have to not allow that to happen this next election cycle. We have to reach out and make sure that those less liberal voices are heard and know that there are solutions for the problems the face (or think they face).
I fear for my country and even for my world. The populist movement seems to be taking over everywhere and yet, I am confident that it is still only a small (although seemingly very powerful) minority who support the racist, xenophobic, sexist and homophobic ideologies that are on the rise. We need to work toward dis-empowering them and we can’t do that with hate speech, violence and infighting. We can only do that with unity.
Peace and love