The last few weeks have been a blur. I imagine I am not alone in my struggle to process the demons we are now dealing with.
I have come to understand that though we feel things have just become very bad, and very dark, we are ignorant or naïve if we believe they haven’t always been.
I am white. I am Canadian. I am able-bodied. If I know people are suffering unjustly, or will suffer soon based on no other reason than their gender, body, skin colour, or heritage I believe I have a moral obligation to do something.
It seems that some white people are beginning to understand on a very surface level, what the struggles of others amounts too, but are absolving themselves of the duty to act. So long as clean drinking water flows from their taps and their families are safe, they will do nothing. White people are the only group of people that have this luxury.
I have struggled over the last couple of days to understand what this all means. I have wept with those who are weeping, but I know this is not enough. I have tried to understand, using my own idea of how the world works (emotions and beliefs), to get to the root of the hatred and evil. I have no satisfying answers, just more questions.
Hate won. Now that we are at a crossroads where our family has betrayed us, who is the enemy? Humans? Our kin? What is the root of their hatred? How long has it festered? If it isn’t hatred, what is it?
If it is fear, we must destroy fear. If it is ignorance, we must make education the noblest and accessible pursuit. Is it ego? Then we must make reflection take hold of the space between every thought. Is it immaturity? Then we must learn that responsibility is beautiful and good. Is it anger? Then we must give all of our resources to healing the trauma of a nation. Is it disillusionment? Then we must demand transparency. Who are we? Do happy, well-adjusted people hate? Is happiness then a noble enough calling if it trumps the dignity of others and concedes to our worst and most evil selves? We cannot fix this until we know why. What lies at the root of hatred? Is it ambivalence?
These are not faceless masses. These are families and people with complicated emotional lives. With fears and worries and beliefs. Change within them will only come from within them. We cannot force them. We can attempt to use the broken systems in place to stop them from continuing to hurt themselves and others, but is this enough? Hate will find a way to be expressed unless it is snuffed out. Destroying hate is not an outside job and no political party, act of violence, lecture, or pressure will stop it.
What will it take to expose these people to themselves? What will it take to have them face their violence and hatred and see the evil and darkness within? How can we help them heal and forgive themselves when they see what they have done? Is that even the best approach? What evil seed was planted within them that taught them to grow to hate? How do we find the roots? How do we help new roots take hold? How do we nourish those who struggle to love?
It is overwhelming. Too many people who need to heal to see the truth of what they have done to their brothers and sisters – what they have done to their children, and their nation. The petty would say, just wait, let them come to understand what they have done by fire. The truth always comes out, and they will see what they have done in time, as their elected leader rapes them of everything they have held dear. When their economy collapses, and their children are sent to war for resources. When their land is destroyed by their own volition and greed.
But we can’t wait for them to get what is coming – too many people are suffering, and will suffer before then. Again we privilege white suffering as the boundary that must be crossed before action is reasonable or a mistake can be called a mistake. Why do we do that? Hatred has taken root. We must act now.
But what to should the ambivalent whites of other nations who believe they are utterly uncompromised do? Everything. Know the systems, understand their flaws, listen. Arm ourselves with facts. Support with our dollars and our votes those candidates and causes that preach love and equality. Educate ourselves on the struggles of others and fight with them like they were our own because injustice and hate are everyone’s problem. And for fuck’s sake, VOTE.
Some might criticise, what am I doing? Sitting here, safe, warm, healthy, from my perch, preaching. I am writing. It is the only thing I can think to do right now, and I encourage you to do the same. They will come for the artists first, the public thinkers. I have hidden for the sake of peace and quiet, but I was stupid to think that it was peace, it was merely fear. We need thinking to start happening in public so we can challenge beliefs and worldviews that are harmful in a way that nourishes us rather than hardens us.
You don’t have to agree with me, but I beg of you, please reflect. Question yourself, honestly, and often, and I will try to do the same.
I do not have a satisfying conclusion for you.