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