My daughter is angry, scared, and disappointed. She is disappointed because in the first U.S. Presidential election she was eligible to vote in, America lost. She is angry because as a young, independent lesbian in a multiracial relationship, she watched as the man who is now the 45th President of the United States ran and won on a platform that overtly targets her, the people she loves, the people she lives with and people she works with.
I am no less angry, scared, or disappointed. I'm disappointed (but not at all surprised) that so many of the people I've spent my career serving and serving with have turned out to be okay with what is happening every week at the highest levels of our government. I'm devastated (but again, not surprised) at how many former friends and family are making excuses for what happened on the street in Charlottesville.
In every way possible, I'm right there with my daughter, fighting through the anxiety and dread, and trying to do what is right; not only for her, because she's my daughter, but for everyone around me. They deserve better than they are getting.
And that's why I have to call something out. My daughter reposted this today, and it is something that I know a lot of her friends and mine are feeling - but it is wrong:
Can we stop the bullshit liberal rhetoric of "love trumps hate" and "post cute puppy pics to spread love instead of hate"? You probably think that prioritizing love makes you better then the nazis and white supremacists that spread hate. But guess what? It is a thinly veiled excuse to be passive in times of injustice. Your silence and deflection is not an act of bravery, but an act of absolute cowardice. You are naive if you believe that "spreading love" will stop LITERAL NAZIS from believing in terrible and violent ideologies.
It is okay to feel hate towards these people. I HATE NAZIS. I HATE WHITE SUPREMACY. I HATE THE INSTITUTIONS AND THE POLICIES THAT HAVE MADE THEM FEEL COMFORTABLE AND SAFE ENOUGH TO HURT INNOCENT PEOPLE WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES.
So, let's just all stop kidding ourselves and take a stand. Not by spreading love, but by taking action.
Here's what's wrong with that:
Love does not equate to weakness.
I do agree that ignoring what is happening and failing to take action is a mistake - cute puppies won't stop the Nazis. But love is far more than cute puppies and vague, dippy happiness. Love is the thing that makes us better than them.
When my son was going through the worst of his issues in elementary and middle school, there were several years where we struggled to work with the school to get his behavior under control. We were fighting to get his diagnosis documented and recognized, and fighting to get him the assistance he required. There were people in our life who told me that the only way to get through to him would be to "beat his ass." They told me I was weak for not doing it, and that I was a fool if I thought medication and coddling would help.
Instead of listening to them, I chose to love him. We pulled him out of that school, and since he had a problem listening to me, his mom did the heavy lifting of going over his lessons and preparing him for high school. I did my best to support her - finding educational shows like Cosmos and Your Inner Fish for her to use to keep him interested in learning, and making sure her uniforms were ironed at night and ready every morning so she could go to bed on time, and get her rest.
When he tested to go back to school for his freshman year, he tested at or well above grade level, even in the subjects he hated most.
Love won. "Beating his ass" would have destroyed him.
The people we are up against now are hoping to spark what they see as a race war. Any violence against them will be used against us - if you can stomach watching Fox News, Breitbart, and the fringe sites that 45 has turned into acceptable mainstream outlets, you can already see that in the way they malign Black Lives Matter and SURJ, and how they're reporting the events in Charlottesville.
Will we fight them? You can bet on it. But until the moment when we have no choice but to meet violence with violence, we must be patient and use the tools we have: love, law, and patience. We will have to be tougher than they are because love is sometimes a harder tool to use than a weapon.
Love requires character. Love requires you to be for other people, not just against the Nazis. Being against Nazis and Lost Cause Confederates is easy; it's harder to be for the ones in the middle. The ones trying to keep their heads in the sand and pretend that #AllLivesMatter to the Nazis. Those are the ones doing the most damage right now.
But Love insists on being tolerant and forgiving enough that even while someone is hurting you, you can keep a firm hold of their hand.
I know when you're this scared and this angry, what I'm saying sounds insane; but I have lived it. I've only made it through the worst moments of my life because of love and patience. I wouldn't be married to my best friend without both. I wouldn't have the family I have if I had done what so-called Common Sense and my worst instincts had told me to do.
"You probably think that prioritizing love makes you better then the nazis and white supremacists that spread hate." You're goddamned right I think that. Because I am better than them - and so are you. But you're fooling yourself if you think I'm being passive. I'm sure as hell not being silent.
There may come a day when I have to go out in the street and throw things to save my daughter and my family and my neighbors from these awful people, but until that day is here, I will keep taking care of my beautiful general, keep counseling my children, keep encouraging my employees and colleagues to do the right things.
And I vote. Which is something that more people should have done when they saw that the fucking Nazis were supporting the reality show host running roughshod over the "normal" candidates.
I don't know what is just over the horizon for our country, but I am pretty sure that the good and noble outnumber the fascist and bigoted. I know that when the time comes to make a choice, I won't hesitate to finish what my great-great grandparents started in the Civil War and my grandparents tried to finish in World War II. I hope we can finish it with little or no bloodshed.
But until the time comes, don't give up on Love. Love is not for cowards. Love is for the strong, because it is what makes us strong.
Whatever is required of me, Love is what will make me give it.