Our current political turmoil demonstrates just how much damage can be done when we no longer require words to bear some verifiable relation to reality.
One area in which this consistently creates problems is when well-meaning folks like me see an appeal that touches our emotions and we say something about it in a way that is totally risk-free. It makes us feel better about ourselves, more generous, more empathetic. It makes us feel included with our fellow-promisers, too. “I publicly said that I care, now I’m part of the solution!” It revives our easily-shaken sense that we’re in control, that we know what to do about what is making us uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, all of these feelings boil down to being about us, not the people or communities or policies that we are trying to support. For those of us in dominant social groups, it’s no surprise that we operate this way. Everything we have ever experienced has taught us that we are the people who hold the reins, that our voices are the ones that matter, that the responsibility for deciding what to change and how to change it rests with us. If we are to tear apart the very real fabric of oppression in our culture, however, we need to start putting the reins into the hands of those most impacted by that oppression, and standing beside them in their struggle, which means being uncomfortable, feeling like we don’t belong, and that we aren’t in control. That’s okay. That’s what it’s supposed to feel like. It won’t kill us, and it may make us stronger, more steadfast comrades in the struggle.
In that spirit, here’s one authentic voice that speaks to what is needed to support the rights and freedoms of Muslims in our country. Let him speak to you.
©Mary Braden 2016