Ashamed & Afraid for My Country

This honestly isn’t a political rant.  Whether or not anyone agrees with who was elected, what’s done is done.  There are checks and balances in place, as well, so no one can run amuck unchecked.  I believe we have to have faith in our strength as a country to persevere and pray that the people in office use good judgment and listen to the voices of experience placed around them to guide them.  Hope for the best.

What makes me fearful for my country are the actions of a small portion of the population who sincerely believe that, due to who was elected, they have the right, the duty, to go around harassing and assaulting minority groups.

In the aftermath of the election, stories keep surfacing from all parts of the country spewing hate and division.  People are legitimately afraid to go outside, to go to work and send their children to school.  People are getting harassed, accosted and assaulted in broad daylight in public places because of their race, religion, or sexual preference in unheard of numbers.  Decades ago, behavior like this was more commonplace but I had sincerely thought that we as a country had grown beyond it.  I am ashamed that there are people who truly think this is okay.  And I am fearful.

The perpetrators aren’t just adults who should know better.  There are stories of children in elementary school telling their classmates they’re going to get deported.  That type of learned behavior is abhorrent.  Their parents should be ashamed.  As an American who grew up in this beautiful melting pot of a country, I am ashamed.  And I am fearful.

I have heard there have been attacks going the other way, as well, with minorities assaulting Trump supporters solely because they voted for their chosen candidate.  Though these stories are appearing less frequently, they are no less disgusting.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Attacking each other does nothing but create more division at a time when this country desperately needs unity.  I am equally ashamed of people on both sides of the fence that think that violence and hatred could solve anything.  And I am fearful.

I honestly found myself at a loss for words, something that is very rare for me.  Writing is my lifeblood.  As I sat thinking about the state of my country in abstract terms, reality hit.  This wasn’t just something floating across my newsfeed, happening to others, mortifying me from the safety of my home.  I thought of my friends, some of which I have known for well over twenty years.  I opened up my facebook and looked, truly looked at their faces.  I was mortified at how many of them might be affected by this wave of insanity.  I became sincerely afraid for their safety.

I found myself penning this note to put out there to them because I honestly didn’t know what else to say:

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I reached out to some of them personally.  None of them honestly wanted to talk much about it.  They were fearful for themselves and their families but they were weary of everyone checking in on them.  It is all they keep hearing about.  They are bombarded by it.  They are cautious.  They don’t understand how any of this is happening today.  But they just don’t want to talk about it anymore.  They want their lives to go back to normal, back to a time before they felt this way.  I am truly ashamed that my friends should ever have to feel like this.  And I am very afraid that things might one day hit closer to home.

I kept reading the news, watching and listening.  I know that these occurrences aren’t widespread.  Half the country is not actively up in arms, attacking the other half.  This is happening in small pockets, though, throughout the country.  These aren’t isolated incidents.  Stories keep popping up.  While the vast majority are not committing these crimes, enough people are that people are genuinely afraid.  We should all be ashamed that this is happening in our country.  And we should be fearful about what it says about our future.

I heard about the safety pin movement.  Though it originated in England, related to Brexit, it has been adopted by people in the United States as a way to let those who are afraid know that they have their support, that they will stand by them and protect them if need be.  I immediately searched for one to add to my jacket, even adding a large heart to it so there would be no doubt that the pin has been placed with love and compassion.

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In all honesty though, I am five foot two, there is not much I could physically do to fend anyone off.  I am by no means a warrior, at least in any physical sense of the word.  Writing, though, is my lifeblood and words are my weapon of choice.  I have spoken out openly and loudly in support of mental health awareness and fighting the stigma attached because I believe it to be a cause I wholly believe in and support.  Likewise, I stand firmly behind those who are fearful for their safety in a world gone mad.  I may not have much in the way of physical force to use to defend you, but I will stand by you and I will speak out for you.

I am truly ashamed of my country right now.  And I am afraid for everyone that is being targeted by harassment, abuse and assault by people who should truly know better.

Fearful or not, though, we all must stand up and say Enough! We must stand by each other in support, not only symbolically by wearing pins or messaging friends to make sure they are okay, but by speaking out, putting our words out there, saying THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

We are a country built upon a melting pot of great people from all different areas of the world, all walks of life.  We are better than this.  I am tired of being ashamed and fearful.  You should be, too.

Speak up!

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