I wrote this last week in what seemed like a time I needed to write it for me. However, as time passed, I second guessed whether or not to publish it because I didn’t want to be preachy and wondered if it’s even relevant anymore. This topic has surfaced again on my newsfeed today so I’m sharing now, hardly proofread, but if I don’t do it now, I might not.
I sit here overwhelmed with the constant output of news, specifically what I consider to be bad news. Let’s be honest, if my newsfeed was puppies and rainbows, I wouldn’t be writing this. I’ve read story after story about what new policy has been put in place or an opinion piece about how one side, specifically the other side, has it all wrong. That’s when I hear the voice in my head, and sometimes out loud say, They or We, Them or Us. A metaphorical face palm follows with the understanding that those words are how we got here. We, and I mean Us and Them, are staying on our side and doubling down on why We are right, and They are wrong.
One of the most thought-provoking pieces was a video circulating of a Nazi getting punched. I think it’s safe to say the very human part of me wants every Nazi or hate filled person to get punched, yet I found myself a little sad at the notion of a person getting whacked out of nowhere. There was a unique opportunity for me, in this particular story because I found myself in the middle. Yes, a guy like that is terrible for spreading messages of hate, but getting hit when doing nothing outwardly violent didn’t seem right either. The opportunity I had was to listen to both sides with curiosity, true curiosity, not just asking questions so I can prove I’m right. How many of us are guilty of that last one? Me!
I was speaking to a friend of mine, who by all accounts I would label a pacifist. He is compassionate, loving, and an amazing friend. I’m always willing to hear what he has to say about something like this because our opinions differ such that his sounds just enough like mine that I am willing to listen and share openly. He was firmly in the camp of that guy deserved a punch. I wasn’t completely surprised, yet I was. He said, even if he wasn’t actively violent at that moment, what he was saying incites violence and encourages terrible things to be done in the world. He was talking about the general Nazi message, not just the interview where said punch took place. That made sense to me. I understood what he meant. If we just sit back and let people instigate violence, then we may find ourselves on a subtle, slippery slope that has us off a cliff before we can punch the person pushing us. This is the point in which I set the record straight. My friend has since changed his mind on this topic, not my doing, but by listening openly to another friend. It’s something which he is gifted at doing.
I have OCD, so the obsessive part of my brain got a hold and wouldn’t let go. I saw the video surface a few more times and even saw it set to music. It reminded me of the cheering people did at Trump rallies when someone hit a protester. It’s kind of the same feeling I got when I heard people cheering that Sadam Hussain or Osama Bin Laden got killed. It’s a mixture of “They won’t hurt anyone anymore” and “Somewhere, someone misses them terribly. They had a mother. They had children.” It makes it hard for me to ever rejoice in someone’s death. I’m sure if an act of violence happened directly to my children I would want to cut someone’s neck off, slowly with a butter knife, but I’m fortunate to say that hasn’t happened.
I keep coming back to this; if we say it’s okay to hit a Nazi because he is spreading ideas which we find dangerous to the world, then aren’t we also saying it’s okay for them to do the same. After all, they believe what liberals are saying about all inclusive, equal rights for everyone are dangerous to their way of life. Here’s where I want to be clear. I’m firmly on the side of everyone single person should have equal rights, not just in this country either, but the logic of justification seems flawed. They think We are just as dangerous as We think They are.
I expect many to disagree with me, respectfully, I hope. I don’t have answers, at least not as many as I have questions, but I think now more than ever, we need to ask more questions.