This is raw. I apologize in advance, but these thoughts have been buzzing around in my head for a minute now, and I felt that this forum was one where I could express them, get them out, and hopefully put into words things that others might be feeling too. If not, then at least you will get a glimpse into my mind and see what it feels like to be a middle-aged woman (oh my goodness), raising a biracial child in troubling times politically and socially. I will strive to not make this political at all. Firstly, because I hate politics and am not fit to adequately comment from an educated political viewpoint, and secondly because I believe this issue goes much deeper.
The issue is division.
Instead of progressing like we are supposed to do as a society, and learning from history, in my humble opinion we are regressing. There is a quote that states that if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Looking around at the state of our nation, it seems like we ARE repeating it, and not the wonderful parts.
I am saddened and I am scared. On a personal level, this division has affected me very deeply. I have family members who won’t speak to me anymore because of my political support or lack thereof for our current administration.
Families are being divided; figuratively and literally. I think as a society we seem to have forgotten that we are first and foremost humans. Whether we are from different countries, or have a different skin color, or love someone of the same sex, or were born speaking different languages, or are left, right or in between, our first commitment should be to the human race. I don’t care whether or not you voted Republican or Democrat; I care way more about your actions as a person. I care that you are kind, or empathic, or unbiased. I care that you try to do good things just because that is the way we are called to live. I care that you support people who are suffering. And likewise, I care when you are not living up to those things that I find fundamentally part of being a good person.
A few weeks ago I posted a story on the community pages on Facebook for the town in which I reside. It was a true story of how one of my dearest friends- a woman who I admire and love, was recently verbally assaulted while walking her dog in the neighborhood in which she lives, raises her children, and teaches. Adopted from India as an infant, my friend was raised in upstate NY by a white mother. She is a kind, intelligent person; her beauty on the outside matched only by her inner beauty- stunning. While on her daily walk, a woman came out of her home and began shouting at my friend (who is a beautiful shade of brown) to “Go back where you came from, you dirty immigrant.” Over and over again, the ugly words were hurled in her direction, pummeling her with their hatred and ignorance. Stunned, hurt and angry, crying tears of disgust, my friend walked home.
My intent on sharing the story with the community was in hopes of building awareness that ugly things do happen here, as they do everywhere unfortunately, and I thought people should know.
There are two issues at play here. The first issue was the incident itself. Disgusting, horrifying and scary. The second issue, and the one I will choose to focus on today, is the way that my post was received, which in my opinion says a lot about the state of our country today. Overwhelmingly, people were shocked and angered to hear about what happened, and offered a great deal of support and love for my friend. That is what I expected, and I was not disappointed to learn that many people were genuinely offended and upset that our community was capable of such vileness. However, the other side; and the one that I was totally caught off guard by, was the fact that people seemed upset that I was calling the town out for something that happened within its limits. People even questioned that validity of the story, saying that if no one saw or heard the incident take place then surely it was made up. Yet others, speaking from a place of their comfortable “privilege,” tried to discredit the veracity of the issue, stating that I was “causing trouble,” or “bashing the town.”
Again, the division reared its ugly head. As Suzy Kassem wrote in her book Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem,
“For there to be harmony and peace, everything must be balanced. And for there to be balance, there must be equality. And where there is equality, there will be justice. And where justice is honored and preserved, there will always be truth. Eliminate the concept of division by class, skills, race, income, and nationality. We are all equals with a common pulse to survive. Every human requires food and water. Every human has a dream and desire to be happy. Every human responds to love, suffering and pain. Every human bleeds the same color and occupies the same world. Let us recognize that we are all part of each other. We are all human. We are all one.”
I fear that we as a country have regressed. If we don’t start to live by love and kindness first, instead of living by what divides us, we cannot succeed. Being kind and nice is really much easier than being hateful. I will leave you with this, because I fear that the ramblings of my mind could go on and on and I will lose you all to slumber.
Spread love, not hate. Smile at a stranger. Carry someone’s groceries to their car. Let that car into your lane. Be nice. Be kind. Treat others the way you would love to be treated. Do small, random acts of kindness without wanting recognition. Stand up for the underdog, the oppressed, the neighbor walking her dog.
We can do this, people. We can be the change that we wish to see. It starts with us.
Alyssa Pantilieris is a proud single mom to my college-aged daughter, Emily. I am a teacher, a mentor, a friend and a seeker of equality for every living thing. I enjoy cooking, reading, writing and spending time with my kids; 2 legged and 4 legged. I believe in kindness and showing love for all!