Sunday, January 22, 2017

What I Fear

Another social media post has me mulling today. First thing this windy, sunny Sunday morning, I read the following:
I keep seeing people post on how they are terrified, or scared? Well.. what are you scared of exactly? War? Because that's happening. School shootings? Because that's happening. Pipeline? That's been happening. Terrorism? Definitely alive and well. Going broke due to health insurance? Mm yes. Corruption throughout the system? Already there. Police officers being murdered? Yep, that's happening. Bullying? Check. Loss of jobs? We've got that on lock. A tanking economy? Yep. Being discriminated against for your religion, political views, , race? That's been going on. Rape, murder, violence, riots.. all going on and has been.
So tell me, what are you scared of that is not already happening basically everywhere? This isn't a Trump problem, this is a people problem. Y'all need to reevaluate your own selves..
Maybe America is a little too scared and a little too easily offended.
Quit being scared, crying around, offended by everything.. step up and do your part as an American, no, as a human being. Treat others with respect, help and encourage one another, raise your kids right, be a contributing member of society. Make sure your hands are clean, that's your job. Burning the American flag? Get out of here with that crap, how about you do your job to make it a better place.
But right now, all I see is hate. It's disturbing, and the ones with the most hate are being exactly what they claim to be against.
So, I don't know whether the person who posted this is a Trump supporter. I'm not going to address the underlying bias of the post. But, the basic premise is that all the possible things you could be afraid of are already happening, so you shouldn't be expressing fear. It then goes on to reduce it all to personal responsibility.

First, I don't think the presence of fear is a reason not to fear. The fact that any number of scary things are already happening doesn't mean that we shouldn't be concerned. The question that this post started with is this: "What are you afraid of?" And so I'll answer that in the paragraphs to come.

Second, we live in a communal society, where one person affects another. Like it or not. So refraining from comment or being unconcerned about these corporate issues seems shortsighted to me. It does start with individuals, but as soon as it goes beyond the ONE it is indeed a societal issue.

I want to temper the word "fear." I'm not afraid for my personal safety (although I do have that fear on behalf of others). I would probably use the term "worry" rather than "fear." Or "bothered" or "concerned." So... what am I afraid of with the current trajectory of our country?
  • I am concerned that the leaders in our government will repeal some of the solutions that were put in place to fix systematic, institutionalized discrimination.  For example: The rights of the LGBTQ individual to marry the person they love and have a family together. Compassion for immigrant families who want to stay together in a safe place, rather than be split apart by deportation and denied asylum from the violence and poverty in their country of origin. The rights of a person with a pre-existing condition to get medical coverage (full disclosure: I have mixed feelings about the ACA because my weight is considered a "pre-existing condition" - so it gave me more options but it also made the options so expensive that I couldn't afford coverage at all). 
  • I am concerned that Trump will actually do what he's said he might, and deny the people of the Baltics (i.e. my friends in Latvia) the protection of the United States if they are faced with a new occupation by Russia.
  • I am concerned that by placing such a person in a position of power, we as a country are endorsing his brand, his opinions, his agenda, and his ideals (or lack thereof). I worry that people will judge us all by his actions. And I don't want to be associated with that.
  • I am concerned that those placed in leadership over various departments in our government are more concerned with self-promotion and positions of power than they are with the actual function and purpose of said departments than what they might do to make improvements. Power grabs are not a new thing. Yet I'm still concerned. Specifically, I'm concerned for my friends who are educators. I can't imagine what calamity is to come.
  • I am concerned about a general trend of valuing money and prosperity over people and humanity and compassion.

War? Terrorism? Unemployment? Shootings? Do I fear those things? I am sad that these things happen in our world. My concern is that they seem to be so commonplace now that we are expected to accept them and not be concerned about them. Accept and not try to alleviate.

I believe that the division in our country today is born out of a difference of opinion that we have yet to learn how to handle in a positive way. I can only imagine that tensions were at least this high when our country was trying to pull itself out of the bonds of slavery (there was an actual, physical civil war over that, if you recall) or when we were trying to end the injustice of segregation. People hated then. People were fearful then. People were unemployed and shot at and terrorized then, for sure. Today's issues are different, yet the same. They are sometimes religious in nature (for example, what you believe God thinks about homosexuality). They are sometimes self-serving (for example, if you have job A that means I can't have job A so I'm mad at you). They are sometimes born out of personal bias (I have been taught that certain people are undeserving or deserving of benefit x, y, z... and I believe that teaching with my whole heart).

The social media post I quoted above ended with a judgment of those who are expressing concern by calling it "hate." What I believe we must not do is equate speaking out with hate. I have seen many people refer to "hate speech" that they have seen online. Let me be clear: having a difference of opinion and expressing it in public does not equal hate. I am greatly concerned with the election of Donald Trump as our President. That is not a statement of hate. That is a statement of my reality, born out of my opinion and based on my beliefs and values.

Bottom line: none of us know what the future will bring. We all face it with some level of trepidation; it's a part of our DNA to worry, I think. Our perspective on the future is also inherently connected to our beliefs and values. So what I fear or worry over will be different than what you do. And that's okay. Yet somehow we have made it not okay. I'm right and you're wrong or vice versa. I have a feeling that very few of us have a monopoly on being right. And none of us seem to have all the answers. So why can't we stop condemning each other for being together in this same boat of uncertainty?

P. S. I also fear spiders. And heights.

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