I have been haunted by an incident I witnessed about 10 years ago – haunted and shamed by my silence and lack of action to a bullying, racist, islamaphobic incident.
I was in a local auto shop waiting to have my tires changed, when a young Somali man came in. He inquired about some tires for his automobile in a soft, polite voice. The manager replied loudly and rudely and went into a rage for no apparent reason. He came around from behind the counter, waving his clipboard and shouting about you people and ignorant idiots and learn the language.
I was dumb struck and apalled!
The young man looked equally stunned and puzzled and quickly left. The manager stormed off into the office as someone came out to tell me my car was ready. I paid the bill and left.
Though a long time customer, I never returned. But I never said why.
I have relived this scene over and over and my shame grows each time. I will NEVER allow it to happen again.
I make no apologies for my distress at the outcome of this presidential election.
I fully understand that our country and our government systems are broken and in need of major changes. But I will never understand how people could have voted for a mean, bigoted, bullying demagogue to make those changes.
The outcome of the election has unleashed the primitive hatred of too many people who have no sense of respect or compassion and no desire to live within norms of civility and tolerance and lack any commitment to reason, facts and analysis.
And I am guilty of allowing this silence to happen. You are probably just as guilty.
Our silence in the face of bullying, discrimination, derogatory speech, misogeny, racial slurs – our silence has allowed this hatred to grow unchecked. Then we have the audacity to be angered by the behavior of our president elect and his followers.
Our silence is the enemy. 49% of eligible United States voters continued that silence by not going to the polls. I did vote. You probably voted. But when did any on us stand up to those who verbally abused our neighbors?
I live a few doors away from our local mosque. In the past 10 days, I have noticed a change in my immigrant neighbors. They are more reluctant to make eye contact and speak to me. My gay and lesbian friends are fearful. Young mothers dread the future their daughters face.
I refuse to continue my life as a silent coward.
A young French illustrator, Maeril, created a simple illustrated guide for what to do when you are witnessing any kind of harassment. Then someone created a video based on this guide. It is all going viral on FaceBook. PLEASE, check this out!
End the silence