To Those Who Think I Am Turning Away From The Fight

Photo by ernomijland[Warning: this may trigger those of you who have experienced abuse]

I am getting more than a little irked at all the posts I’m seeing on social media about how if I’m not willing to do something than I am as bad as the terrorists.

How if I turn away from violence, if I am unwilling to put myself in a situation when I am punched or kicked or killed, then I am operating from a position of privilege and I am as bad as the racists.

I am turning away from the vitriol, the hate, and the violence. I will not be found at any protests or vigils. 

But that does not mean that I am operating from privilege nor that I am turning away because it doesn’t concern me. It doesn’t mean that I am racist. I hate white supremacist ideas. I detest the KKK. And I believe that there is no place for anything remotely resembling nazism in the world. 

But yet I will not fight. 

I am making a public declaration: my childhood was so filled with violence that my body still bears the scars. I cannot eat asparagus to this day without vomiting because I was beaten so badly over a piece that I had bruises up and down my back and legs. I bear the scar of a cigar burn on my right hand. There is a scar running down my right nostril that I cover up every day with makeup. I still occasionally wake up from a nightmare dreaming I am being beaten. Occasionally situations will trigger me, and I need to get away immediately.

I don’t say this for pity. I survived. I survived on my own. I had no privilege then. I had no advocates. The adults in my life looked the other way. Everything that I am now came from clawing my way out of that situation, earning each and every hard step. On. My. Own. So yes, it appears I have privilege now. And in a lot of ways I do. But it isn’t something I was handed. I fought to get there.

I am saying this because too many people these days make sweeping statements about others should do. What I should do.

Yet no one stops to consider what they are truly saying. How each sweeping statement applies to individual people, individuals whose backstory they might not ever be able to guess.

I’ve already fought in the war against irrational anger and hate. I have the scars to prove it. I won’t go willingly back.

Maybe I am a coward. But that is between me and my own gods. It’s not for anyone else to decide.

And so I remind everyone who is blithely re-posting and retweeting rhetoric about how others are part of the problem that you cannot judge another until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Photo by ernomijland

Some Thoughts Spawned by Charlottesville

Photo by AnimatedAtlasThe original article I wrote has been replaced by what you see below.

First Amendment
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

First phrase: CONGRESS shall make no law.

For all those people out there whining about how their first amendment rights are being violated because their hate-filled websites are being taken down by the provider, First Amendment doesn’t apply. Unless Congress somehow managed to take over hosting companies or search engines, it doesn’t apply. The First Amendment doesn’t guarantee that any business will continue to support hate and violence.

I would also like to point out that the “protection” guaranteed by the First Amendment applies is only protection against laws Congress makes. It is not protection against societal backlash or other consequences.

So to those who are spewing hate-filled rhetoric, you have no protection. You don’t like the consequence, shut your mouth. If you don’t, there will be consequences. Yes, you can lose your job. Yes, you can be disowned. Yes, you can be spurned by everyone who meets you. That is what can happen. If you don’t want to risk it, don’t open your mouth. Plain and simple.

Photo by AnimatedAtlas

Mist on the Mountains

Photo by John Hayes (gravelboy)We recently spent a week in the mountains of western North Carolina. The place we stayed is in the Smokey Mountains. The mountains rise on all sides, and line the roads between towns. The place we stayed was nestled into a valley, but the mountains were always right there.

Every morning we would get up and the mountains would be gone. The sky had descended during the night, covering everything around us. It was easy to forget that they were there, until the sunlight would burn off the mist and the mountains would appear again.

I found the mountains as relaxing as the ocean. But they had a different feel to them than other places I have been. I can see why this land was sacred to the Cherokee.

Photo by John Hayes (gravelboy)

The Flying Bowling Pins

Photo by spwhite1

I recently started a new client. I don’t have a desk, I have a table. But that table is next to a window, and that window has a spectacular view of a pond.

Clients normally don’t waste windows on consultants, nor desks either. This client is different…I will be moving to a desk in about a month. And until then I will enjoy this view.

One of the things that comes with this view is the view of the birds. There is a blue heron, an egret and an osprey. There are also lots of Canada geese.

I was watching the geese come in for a landing on the water, looking for all the world like flying bowling pins, and I recalled something that happened at another client site.

I was out walking around their pond during lunch, listening intently to a French lesson. My mind was on the words, not on the geese.

One of the geese took off from across the pond and headed my way. I didn’t really think much of it. Until I realized it was aiming for my head. It wasn’t trying to take off, it was trying to take me out.

I scrambled up the muddy bank to get out of the way. From the top, hands and knees covered in mud, I saw the nest, 5 feet from where I had been walking.

What sort of stupid animal builds a nest next to a sidewalk? One, apparently, that is confident in being able to take out a human.

I prefer seeing the geese from my window.

Photo by spwhite1