By Kate Kole
I was glued to the news this weekend. To the point of shock, then confusion, then rage. Against my better judgment, I scrolled through the trending stories on Twitter, righteously nodding and vehemently shaking my head – depending on what the stranger on the internet in front of me had to say. I can’t even count the amount of times I said to my husband, “Okay, I know we’re already done talking about this. But, I just have one more thing to add.” Because that’s what I do when I’m upset. I talk. I process. I attempt to sort out the mess. And right now, I just can’t.
It feels like we’re standing in the middle of a screaming match. The lines are drawn. Our stances have been decided. There’s little, if any, wiggle room left for any of us to truly claim that we can see both sides. In my mind, I’m definitively right. In yours, you are too. Our belief systems are powerful things, equal parts passion and stubborn.
So, I’m not going to write and ask you to see where I’m coming from. Because, truthfully, I don’t know if we’re in a collective space to see and hear things out from one another right now. The emotions are too high and the wounds are too deep.
What I will say, and what I do feel are the words of Anaïs Nin resonating in my soul:
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
I’m a white, middle-class, straight woman from Iowa who grew up around a lot of other white, middle-class, straight people. I’ve led a pretty privileged life in the sense that I’ve never truly felt discriminated against or racially stereotyped. I haven’t felt wronged by the system for simply being and expressing the person that I am.
And due in large part to the freedoms that I’ve personally experienced, I have felt proud to be an American. I’ve stood at football games, with my hand on my heart, goosebumps covering my arms, and tears filling my eyes, watching the flag fly on the field. Because, I’m grateful for this life. I’m incredibly thankful for the people who have fought, and continue to fight, to protect our country and my freedom. I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.
Yet still, injustice does exist. Right here. Right now. Right in front of us. Racism exists. Discrimination exists. We aren’t all experiencing the same sort of freedom. We have the right as Americans, and perhaps even more so, a moral obligation as human beings, to exercise the First Amendment by peacefully protesting inequality and speaking out against oppression.
This is bigger than what we’ve chosen to claim as our symbols of freedom and patriotism. It’s about who we are, and the way in which we see things as we are. It’s about using the platforms we have to stand against what is broken and for what we believe.
Now isn’t the time to be neutral. It’s time to form a more perfect union. One that isn’t lost in the hate fueled storms of social media driven by the president, but that supports all its citizens.