Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I will listen

I didn't hashtag #Ferguson in my title because I'm not seeking to gain traffic from a terrible and divisive national event. I am not one to jump into the spotlight to yell for my cause and I always run away quickly if politics are involved. I don't change my Facebook profile photo to support a cause, I don't pour ice water over my head, I don't write about the "big stuff".

But if I don't speak up, I'm told I don't care.

And when I do speak up, I'm told I don't understand.

Guess what? I am not black. I do not know how it feels to be black. So if that is what I "can't understand"? I guess there is obvious truth there.  I am a white person from Tennessee. Am I a racist? Nope. I was brought up with faith and caring and lessons to be nice. To quote Dr. Seuss, "A person's a person, no matter how small" - or how dark, or light, or tall, or short, or rich, or poor, or smart, or not-so-smart, for that matter.

Do you want to know why I don't say much? I blame my way of thinking. I have a highly analytical mind and I can't commit myself 100% to one side of most any situation, ever. If I wasn't there, I don't know the real truth. I will never take what's on social media or the news as the full truth because news is for ratings/pageviews and social is often fueled by narcissism and a groupthink mentality.

So when I am conflicted and I know I can't stand by every piece of info on any one side, I stay quiet. NOT because I do not care, but because I am observing and listening. I am searching for the truth. Did a mother lose her son to a violent weapon way too soon? Yes. Is it a good idea to approach an officer when being told to stop and get on the ground? Nope. Is burglary a crime? Yes. Is it a crime worthy of being shot dead on the street? Of course not. Do racists exist? Unfortunately, yes, far too many. Will my white son have more privileges in life? Maybe. In this particular situation, poor choices were made - on all sides - and something extremely heartbreaking occurred. That's what I do know. A trial would have brought more facts to light and I, too, was shocked to hear that instead, it is just over. Everyone is supposed to walk away now...? I am so sad about the entire situation. I wish none of it had ever happened. I wonder about the other incidents that we don't hear about on the news. I hope that no one else gets hurt. I support mankind, and I want us to do better. Just... do better. 

Social media allows us to hide behind our screens and shout out extreme statements that we may not otherwise say to anyone's face. We hide behind things in cowardice so that we may shout and rage and be extreme. So perhaps we all need to step out with genuine hearts, in person, with understanding and listening in mind. Maybe, before we shout our opinions to the masses in an effort to change minds and chastise, we should listen first. The path to change is not paved with loud voices and domination. We need to start listening. Now.

For anyone who wants to talk, I will listen.

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