We all know this saying. ” ‘An eye for an eye’ makes the whole world blind.”
It’s a good reminder that violence is never the answer to a problem. Hatred and the act of hurting another doesn’t solve anything. But that’s a difficult adage to precah when entire classes of people are being marginalized, violated, and attacked simply for being who they are.
My heart has broken on so many occasions lately, for my fellow LGBTQ people, for my black friends, for the people in Baghdad and Turkey; the list goes on. As a white woman who identifies as “gay except for one notable exception”, I find myself walking a weird line. I cannot possibly fathom what my black friends go through every day. I cannot comprehend what it’s like to fear for my life, especially in the south where racism is so rampant, simply for driving in the wrong neighborhood. I can wear a hoodie with the hood pulled up and people do not run away or cross the street.If my hair is left “natural”, I am not called “unprofessional”. If I have a flat tire on the side of the road, I am perfectly capable of changing it myself. But I know damn well that the average drive is much more inclined to stop and help me than a black person. It sickens me, what our society has demonstrated toward people who are no different than anyone else except for the color of their skin, the texture of their hair. Their blood still stains the streets red when they are gunned down. Their families still weep countless tears. Their lives are just as shattered.
On the flip side, I also live in the same south that is virulently homophobic. Perhaps I am lucky that I “pass”. As someone who chooses to stay in a politically condoned marriage with a member of the opposite cis-gender, people look at me and smile and think, “What a nice, normal family!” But when it slips that the Scientist and I have an open marriage? That we have kids who identify as gay or queer? That I prefer women over men? That yes, my kids have met people that both the Scientist and I have dated? Eyebrows disappear into hairlines, lips thin out and turn down a bit at the corners, and eyes narrow. I’m not longer “safe” and “normal”. I’m now “one of THEM”.
“One of them.” “Those people.” The sneers of derision, the shudders of revulsion, the airs of disdain. How many times have you felt those emanating from you? Or how many times have you felt them coming at you?
I know that I cannot fix our society. It’s a depressing thought that I brought kids into a world where they are not safe. It’s sad to think that I almost hope my kids don’t choose to have kids because I worry so much for their safety, and they don’t even exist.
What I can do is stand up, speak out, and openly support those who have felt the sting of discrimination and violence. I stand for those who have been abused, singled out, bullied, hurt.
I will use my own eyes…not in the adage above, but to see. I will see the truth, the brutal honesty that we as humans have become, and I will do my best every second of every day to truly look for ways to fix what I can. Because without each person’s eyes, without each person’s heart, without each person’s hands reaching out, the blood will continue to spill.
We have to help. We have to hope. We have to love.