Ok, my dear readers, today is Social Justice Sunday! Yes, I just made that up! For those of you not on my Facebook to read my epic rant of the day, here it is! Cheers!
I need to take a moment to say something here. I have been known to be passionate in my opinions, but I have never belittled others for theirs. I am deeply concerned about this idea that if our opinions are informed in any way by emotion, they are automatically wrong. My values, belief and opinions come from a place of love, acceptance and yes, a deep sense of justice. I am tired of being put down for that.
I have been criticized in many ways over the years. One complaint was, I post too much fluff, obvious, cliché, psychobabble. Ok, fair enough. I do post that stuff. Hey, if you are a well adjusted person with no serious issues in your life that have ever caused you harm or left invisible scars, kudos to you. If this stuff is so obvious to you that it’s unneeded and comes across as meaningless platitudes then I am happy for you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of broken people in this world who need the encouragement and the reminders, myself included at times. So I’m going to keep posting that stuff.
I have been called a social justice warrior, that I’m full of fake indignation and righteous anger. First of all, the indignation is real. Second of all, they say it like being angry at injustice makes me weak or my opinions inherently wrong, since they are coming form an emotional place. Why shouldn’t I feel emotion at injustice? I say the problem is with the people who don’t feel it. I know, I post a lot of stuff about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and the marginalization of the disabled. I know it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I know that some believe I am some sort of brain washed alt left cult member reciting crap I’ve read somewhere without a brain cell in my head to use on my own. But it’s not true. The reason I get so worked up is that all of these issues are personal to me. Any injustice anywhere should be personal to us all. So I’m going to keep posting that stuff.
Here’s another hot button word guaranteed to start a fight: trigger, or being triggered. Being triggered is a real thing and I’m tired of people acting like you’re a crybaby if get triggered by reminders of traumatic events. It is completely human for people to have feelings about traumatic events. You can’t expect to tell a rape survivor that she deserved it or tell a person of color that black men deserve to die because they are al l thugs and not expect some emotion. But this is exactly what happens on the internet. People who like to call other people snowflakes and crybabies are engaging in internet bullying worse than anything I ever saw in high school. Injustices happen in the world and we ought to care. So I’m not going to stop posting that stuff.
Though I have been ridiculed for it many times in my life, I care about people. I care about black people, Hispanic people, gay people, transgender people, male people, female people, Muslim people, Christian people, atheist people, Pagan people, disabled people, and mentally ill people. I care about people. I care about you. I care. I understand that hurt people hurt people and most times, when someone comes at me sidewise, I wonder what has hurt them. I often feel sorry for the very people I block. At the same time, that does not mean I can allow someone who is being toxic to continue to hurt me.
We can agree to disagree, this isn’t about political differences. I have friends and family that have different political beliefs than I do and we can disagree politely and we still treat each other with respect. See, that’s really the root of the whole issue right there. Respect. If we all treated each other with respect, think of what we could resolve! When I say no one should die from lack of health care, instead of saying, “yes Angela, I agree, but where do you think the money will come from? You’re so stupid and idealistic.” Try, “Yes, I agree, but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be enough allocated for this to happen.” In the second case you’ve just opened an actual dialogue. Why can’t we focus on the first part: I agree with you, rather than assuming that means I’m a tree hugging hippie liberal communist idealistic witch who is coming for your money?
When a man says to me, “I feel a bit uncomfortable with what you posted because……..” then we have a conversation and hopefully each come closer to understanding the others point of view. But when someone says to me, “You are discriminating against all straight men, you live in a dream world, what you want will never happen.” You have just said to me that it is somehow discriminatory for me to suggest that woman have bodily autonomy (confirming the ingrained toxic masculinity in yourself) and assured me that things like harassment and rape will continue no matter what. When I have just told you that I have been a victim of such abuse, why do you imagine it’s productive to conversation to tell me I’m stupid for wanting change? When I unload my personal experiences to you to show where I’m coming from and you tell me that you don’t know what I’m ranting about, you are purposefully and knowingly minimizing my experiences. When you continue to private message me after I have unfriended you scolding me for being “rude” by unfriending you, you are telling me that you are entitled to my time and attention regardless of what I want. When you tell me that I can’t stand to be proven wrong when, in fact, you have just proven me right by your very actions, then you are part of the problem.
Here’s the bottom line. I’m not going to start pretending that I don’t have a heart. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t cry over Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin. I’m not going to pretend that what happened to Matthew Shepherd doesn’t still haunt me. I’m not going to pretend that I can’t still remember what it feels like to have a man violate me. I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t looked racism right in its eye. I’m not going to pretend that disabled people aren’t marginalized in our society. I’m not going to pretend that it’s ok for people to die of something easily fixed because they didn’t have enough money. I’m not going to pretend that any of its ok. And I’m not going to pretend that I never get triggered by something someone says (especially when they go out of their way to keep pushing and pushing searching for that trigger). I’m not going to pretend that my feelings make me weak.
On the contrary, I believe my feelings are what make me strong. My keen sense of justice is what drives me to speak out about injustice. My deep capacity for compassion is what allows me to feel the pain of others and want to speak out to try and find ways to stop their pain. My compassion and empathy is exactly what allows me to continue speaking up for others. My ability to forgive others is what keeps me from being bitter and full of anger myself. My emotions, often worn on my sleeve, are what make me human! So I’m not going to stop posting that stuff either.
So here’s my fluff, obvious, cliché, psychobabble for you today: You’re not a snowflake for caring about others. You’re not weak for being triggered by reminders of past trauma. You’re not less than others because you care, because you feel. The world needs social justice warriors. Warriors fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Why on earth would anyone consider that an insult?