Being Right.

Posted on | August 7, 2019 | 3 Comments

Since the trauma and horror of this weekend, I’ve been processing. I’ve sat down at the keyboard a dozen times to write but couldn’t find the words.

People are dying.

Children are dying.

And it’s happening because we’re too afraid to do anything that might disrupt the status quo. We’re too afraid to do anything more than shake our heads and fold our hands in prayer. We’re too afraid to stand up and fight back with what we say and more importantly, what we hear.

I live in the South.

There are at least three times a day when I’m confronted with opportunities to set people straight. There are co-workers and clients and acquaintances in my life who say things that I shouldn’t listen to. They make jokes I shouldn’t put up with. They use terms that are culturally or racially insensitive. They display racism or antisemitism or one of the other “isms” that in theory make my skin crawl but in reality I just plaster a smile on and walk away.

This morning on the way to school, J was talking about a kid who said he was over five feet tall but only came up to J’s chin. He said “I told him he couldn’t possibly be that tall because he wasn’t even as tall as me and I’m five feet tall.” The two of them got in a big argument about it and guys… it pains me to say that I told my son that sometimes it’s more important to be happy than to be right.

“You don’t have to show him he’s wrong, buddy. You can just let him be wrong and know you’re right.”

And as the words left my mouth, I felt good about them. I felt like I was right. It’s not important to fight back all the time, I said to myself and my nearly 10 year old. It’s important to just know what’s right in your head and go on with your life.

But the truth is, that’s wrong. That’s so very wrong that it pains me that I told my child that. It’s the result of the privilege that I have on a daily basis of being able to compartmentalize the -isms that I’m faced with because they don’t affect me. The ability to walk away from the conflict is a luxury I was born with and one I quite clearly don’t deserve.

We’re in a critical time in this country. We’re faced with injustice daily in the way people talk about our neighbors and in the way they act towards our friends. We’re in a crisis that can only be resolved by giving up our “happy” in exchange for being right. For saying what’s right. For doing what is right.

I can’t continue to shift uncomfortably in my chair while a client says racist things to me on the phone.

I can’t continue to turn away when my neighbor refers to my¬†homosexual friends in inappropriate terms.

I can’t continue to send thoughts and prayers while young, white men shoot up churches and schools and movie theaters and shopping centers.

We have a crisis on our hands, friends. And it’s the result of all of us pasting on smiles and ignoring the elephants in front of us. I’m a Southerner. Pasting on smiles is what we do. It’s why racism still lives here. It’s why I’d never heard an antisemitic term of any kind until moving to Georgia. It’s why our boys grow up thinking it’s okay to take photographs where they’re pretending to choke women or throwing up Nazi salutes. Because we’ve pasted on smiles and said “Well, that’s just a JOKE. Don’t take it so seriously!”

We have become a country of opposites… white and black, male and female, Republican and Democrat. And one hates the other because it’s “other” and misunderstood. But what we really are, what we must really and truly understand is this:

We are a country of wrong and right.

There’s no middle ground. No “Saturday afternoon” racists. If you use derogatory terms to describe your fellow man, you are wrong. If you believe that the right to bear arms is more important than the right to be safe, you are wrong. If you believe that immigrants can be illegal, you are wrong.¬† Actions can be illegal… not people. If you believe that having brown skin makes you less of a citizen or more frightening in a traffic stop, you are wrong. If you believe that women are somehow less than men, you are wrong. If you believe that Christianity is the only “right” way of life, you are wrong.

And if you tell your son that it’s more important to keep the peace than to stand up for what is right?

You are wrong.

Comments

3 Responses to “Being Right.”

  1. Dana Greer
    August 7th, 2019 @ 12:11 pm

    Yes, a thousand times yes. You have said exactly what I was trying to put together in my head the last few days. Thank you.

  2. theresa
    August 8th, 2019 @ 2:48 am

    I needed this, I have been angry at myself for always feeling the need to speak up. I have lost friends, people I have always considered to be good friends because I can’t sit by and say nothing. My boyfriend tells me I don’t always need to be the one to speak up but somehow I can’t stop myself. He agrees with my views but can ignore others nonsense (especially on social media) I just can’t. As you said, people are dying.

    Funny how the people that love Trump because he says what he wants don’t seem to be as impressed by me calling out racism or promoting common sense gun laws.

    Boyfriend and I are lucky that his “tax cuts” did put more money in our accounts. We have used every one of those extra dollars to donate to Democrats, victims of crimes and Planned Parenthood. We will not profit from his hate.

    Thank you for encouraging my big mouth.

  3. The Many Thoughts of a Reader
    August 8th, 2019 @ 11:19 am

    Word!!

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