Off the Bench


Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil

Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil

A long time ago, I grew tired of men arguing with me on Facebook and Twitter about sexual assault statistics on college campuses.

I grew tired of explaining: rape isn’t about sex, or what she was wearing or how drunk she was.

A long time ago I became tired of reiterating the (actual, provable) fact that women continue to make less than our male counterparts.

I grew tired of explaining that not everyone had the vote in 1776. Or in 1920. Or in 1960.

I was absolutely exhausted by reminding Tulsa that our African American population has been systemically removed from their proper and rightful franchise.

And so I stopped posting, mostly, about those things because the people who respond to those words are the ones who already understand these truths. I shared the modern antidote to social media rants: cat videos and elderly people dancing. I wrote about my hilarious children and the hilarious things they say. I sent, instead, furious direct messages to others who know the same frustration: “Can you believe this joker on my wall?”

Then, last week, the scab was ripped off and the ranting began in earnest. If we thought the Presidential election brought out out ugly, we really reared the gross when two African American men were killed, and then again when officers were killed in Dallas.

I’m seeing a lot about how our country is “broken,” and I’m seeing blame being tossed around like a flaming hot potato. We’re all surprised, and we’re all in shock. We’re asking a lot of questions and most of them don’t have answers.

Suddenly, I can’t be silent anymore. I can’t simply pass up that racist or misogynist or otherwise offensive thing posted online by people I know and care about. Suddenly, to take in that hate and let it wash over me is to be complicit in ignorance.

Here’s what I know:

There aren’t sides.

Seeking to extend love, grace and mercy to a community does not relegate all other communities to a dark hole of disrespect and inattention. When there is a trauma, we seek to address the most critical wounds first. It’s called triage. Stop the bleeding, then move on.

This is not new.

While it may seem like out of the blue the world is crumbling at our feet, the sad reality is: we were born into this. The world is groaning and has been groaning since it’s creation. Therefore, to lay the blame and the onus at the feet of one current administration, or a group, or an event, the reality is: there is nothing new under the sun.

Though not new, it still hurts

Of course it hurts. We don’t, as functioning humans, want to see and hear what we’re seeing and hearing. We don’t want our loved ones to be killed. We want to see less hurt, not more.

The hot potato is all of ours

If we continue to toss the flaming hot blame potato around, we will fail to see, recognize and change our own biases. It’s easy to dust our hands, satisfied with our good and moral and pure nature. Except that’s not who we are or where we are. Doing what we can, where we are is the only way to bring actual change.

And so I will keep posting that Black Lives Matter, because until it’s a reality, then All Lives just rings absolutely false.

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