There are those in the publishing world who counsel not-yet-famous writers to avoid controversial topics and political statements for fear of alienating readers. I’ve never fully accepted that advice, and today I part ways with it completely. My words here are not political in the party sense, and controversy is a matter of perception. This post is not about who won the recent election; it’s about humanity.
I’m tired. I’m dismayed at the venom that has soaked the airwaves and social media. I’m heartsick at the virulent divisiveness that is tearing this country – and others – apart. As the United States reels from a hostile, angry, ugly election cycle that lasted far too long only to end in a disastrous statistical dead-heat folks will argue over for decades, I have to walk away.
If I were a praying person, I would turn to the long-standing Serenity Prayer, striving to accept the things I can’t change, change what I can, and seeking the wisdom to know the which is which. Philosopher that I am, I claim the sentiment if not the original intent.
I’ve long believed that the only arena in which I can truly make a difference is in my little corner of the world. I don’t have the clout (read: money) to get the attention of anyone in Washington, and politics in general is much too power-hungry and egocentric to care about matters or individuals who can’t support those selfish goals.
So I will do what I have always done: draw my friends and family close, support my community, give back in whatever ways I can, defend those who are marginalized. Whether female or male (or fluid), gay or straight (or somewhere in between), Jewish/Christian/Muslim/atheist/etc., U.S. citizen or a citizen of the world, all those who accept and respect humanity in all its wondrous variations are welcome in my world.
For those who would divide us based on labels, on stereotypes, on skewed hate-laden perceptions of reality, those who rely on weapons rather than outstretched arms and dialogue, as my Jewish family and friends would say: you are dead to me. I mourn the loss, as I do the loss of any being, but I will no longer allow you a place in my life, at my table, on my social media feeds, or in my thoughts.
I grieve for humanity.
As I did after the Oklahoma bombing in 1995 (perpetrated by a white male, U.S. citizen, Christian extremist) and again after 9/11 (perpetrated by Middle Eastern male Muslim extremists), I’ll wear a lapel pin as a visible sign of my grief. That token has morphed into a safety pin, offering a safe haven to those who may be mistreated by what I can only hope is the remaining extremist minority.
My #safetypin may be around for quite a while.