We are all a slave to something. That something can fill us with fear. And most times, that something is fear. Fear of the unknown. Our assumptions of a situation are so strong that we feel we must defend ourselves by any means.
My sister's are actively practicing Catholics. In fact, growing up in the Catholic church, I was a part of marches for pro life. I would yell at people walking into clinics. "Save your baby!" I would cry at the thought of lives lost. Our church leader had us watch a video called "The silent scream." It is a video of a baby in the womb getting injected with saline. The baby is thrashing around until it dies. I even wore a shirt in high school that said in big bold letters: "Abortion is Mean." The top of their list is protecting unborn lives. They voted for Trump, who they feel will protect that right. They are scared that women will terminate a life and in turn, they also may suffer the consequence of eternal damnation. They want to protect all children of God. They do not hate me because I am gay. They are not uneducated Republicans. They are caring, wonderful sisters.
My father doesn't want minorities coming into the country. In fact, my father doesn't really like minorities at all. When he was in elementary and high school growing up in the not-so-great parts of Queens, New York, he was one of the only white kids. He would get the shit kicked out of him day in and day out to which he was told to be strong and defend himself. In his adult life he joined the NYPD and his beat was only a quarter block as crime was so bad. He mainly dealt with minorities in the area. All he ever saw was violence. As a child he had to protect himself and as an adult he believed he needed to protect others from them. He assumes that every minority is inherently evil.
As a lesbian who works at a foster school that is mostly minorities, I am scared that my rights as not only a woman, but a lesbian could be shaken at the foundation. I'm scared that what family is left of my foster kids will now be kicked out of the country. They have their own set of fears. What happens when they become adults? Who will be there for them? How will they afford food?
We all let fear take the driver's seat. And wherever fear goes, we go.
Who am I to say your fear isn't valid?
My roommate isn't pro-gun. She isn't pro-violence. Recently, a man came up to her on the street and said, "Now that is some pussy." He continued to heckle her as she scurried by. We talked on the phone later and she said, "I'm getting a taser."
I am scared of where our country is going. I am scared of how divided and fractioned we have become. Fear is contagious. And the very first sniffling, coughing, germ-spreading monster that seemed to start it all? The media. It shows our men and boys how they can act. It shows our girls and women how they should look. It shows only the bad parts of our politics. It shows us that we need them. We need to hold tight. We can't let go of fear because what will catch us?
I see a man with a gun and a shirt that says, "Don't tread on me." I think he is a violent, scary person who I want to be far away from. What I don't see is a man that feels the need to hold that gun and a reason to believe that someone might tread on him. What I don't see is a man that might go to some radical church (which is not every church) that tells him every Sunday if he doesn't follow every move, God will show no mercy on him.
I see a woman with a shirt that says, "Girls marry girls. Get over it." What this man might see is a woman who is trying to obliterate the sanctity of marriage. A man who knows the lines in the bible in Leviticus that says a man should not lay with another man. A man who feels his manhood is being stolen by the weaker sex. Who believes she is the weaker sex because that is what he has been told by magazines, TV, his own father, since day one. What he doesn't see is a women who fell in love with another woman. Who wanted nothing more but to have the same rights as anyone to be with her in the same way a man is with a woman.
What can break us of this fear? What is breaking me from this fear? My willingness to put myself in other's shoes. Even if I don't get it. What you might see is a muscle-bound dude with a rifle. What you may not see is that his fingers is nervously shaking on the trigger.
We need to open our arms. Be vulnerable. Be safe. Show compassion. Find moments to share our love. Speak up when something doesn't sit right with us. Have constructive conversations. We can heal ourselves if we try. This is our beautiful nation. America. Land of the free. With purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain.
Let's let go of fear and hold on to one another.