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I posted this on Facebook a little while ago and decided to share it here. If you'd like to share your thoughts, I'd be honored to hear them.

Facebook--social media in general, really--has become a way for me to stave off the solitude that results from working remotely out of my home office. It's a water-cooler, break-room, leaving-for-a-quick-lunch all in one. It's also a way for me to stay in touch with family and friends as our lives evolve and our children grow. I'm grateful that technology has advanced to a degree such a thing is possible. However.
It's also become a way for folks to voice their opinions on what are generally thought of as very personal decisions regarding very public issues. It's a platform for some to speak openly behind the curtain of safety and anonymity a computer screen offers. There are those who express opinions through memes and status updates in ways they wouldn't dream of doing if standing face-to-face with people (unless they were 100% certain those people agreed with them...or relished the possibility of debate).
It is my view that I have no jurisdiction over anyone's opinion. Our opinions are one of the only things we really own. Listening to another’s opinion without rebuttal does not necessarily mean I agree with them; it simply means I believe in their freedom to voice that opinion. But for the most part--especially publicly--I guard my own opinions like prisoners because to speak them aloud is to potentially invite ridicule as easily as agreement and risks upsetting those I have no wish to upset. So, I keep to myself out of both respect and self-preservation.
However, I find that I can no longer be silent about one particular, publicly opined topic.
I just finished a book called "Once We Were Brothers," by Ronald H. Balson, a story that focused on WWII and a Jewish man from Poland. There were passages in that book that twisted my heart not only because such atrocities once happened...but also because I could see the shadows of them repeating today. In our headlines, in our tweets, in the Facebook statuses of people I love and respect and admire.
Setting aside country and religion for just a moment, I cannot fathom how we as intelligent human beings can condemn such a horrific actuality as the Holocaust in one breath (which I believe any sane person does) and in the next consider--even for just a moment--the possibility of a Muslim database, as I have seen in recent headlines. Registering an entire populace under the guise of protecting against terrorists is, in my opinion, tantamount to evil.
“Nazi persecution didn’t limit itself to race. Religion, national origin, alternative lifestyles, persons with disabilities--all were targets.” (Once We Were Brothers)
“Find a reason to turn your nose up at a culture, to denigrate a people because they’re different, and it’s not such a giant leap from ethnic subjugation to ethnic slaughter.” (Once We Were Brothers)
“There are many reasons to study and teach about the Holocaust, and maybe the most important reason is to prevent re-occurrences. We are sentries [...]. We stand on the wall, on guard against any hint that the minions of genocide are reassembling.” (Once We Were Brothers)
I can hear the arguments of those I love and respect in my head. Yes, I want to protect my home and family. Yes, I want to end terrorism. Yes, I want light to win and evil destroyed. But not by becoming evil myself. Not by damning people to judgement and ridicule and death simply because of where they were born. Simply because of their religion.
What happened to us? I see memes on Facebook declaring individuals wanting to bar our borders against refugees, claiming “refugee roulette” - that there is at least one ‘poisonous’ person in every handful of refugees. I would argue that is true of any situation anywhere in the world.
You attend a soccer game with 20,000 fans, odds are you’re going to have at least one if not many people in attendance who would shoot you for your wallet. You drive on a busy highway, you’re most likely on the road with at minimum five people who could kill you simply because they are compromised in some way. You attend a movie at a busy theater and there’s no guarantee a mentally unstable person with too-easy access to automatic weapons won’t change your world forever. You send your children to school every day with a prayer on your lips that the ‘stranger drills’ they have now added into the tornado and fire drill rotation saves their lives.
This is our reality; we created it, we live in it, we make the best of it. But if we are living in fear of the possibility that one Muslim person might be a terrorist, why are we not also applying the same “protection” against anyone who has ever purchased a gun? Or anyone who has a driver’s license? Or for that matter, anyone who outwardly declares a religious affiliation of any kind? Atrocities against humanity are not limited to Muslims; that religion is simply the latest in history to have extremists. I mean, circling back to the book that triggered my voice, Hitler was Catholic.
What happened to us? What happened to our memories of our ancestors who fled as refugees from persecution to live as they declared right and just and free? What happened to the people who inspired the inscription on the Statue of Liberty? Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Yes, I understand that we have homeless--soldiers and civilians--on our streets that we haven’t found the perfect solution to care for. Yes, I understand that there is debt and infrastructure imbalance that weighs on us a country. Yes, I understand that we’ve been damaged and wounded by terror and corruption. I feel all of that. But I cannot see how any of that justifies the idea that we have a right to categorize an entire people based on race or religion, or that we have the right to deny sanctuary to those whose homes and country have been destroyed by war.
My family is everything to me. I love my husband and daughter with every cell in my body. And I will protect them. But not through fear. If you came to me today and asked me to take in a Syrian family who has somehow managed to survive war and terror long enough to make it to our country, I would set more places at the table and break out the air mattresses. If a Muslim family moved next door, I would welcome them to the neighborhood by bringing them a gift card to a nearby restaurant (because, let’s face it, that’s more welcoming than my cooking).
I would not do this out of naivete, but out of love for my fellow man. I would do it because the God I believe in is not a God who promotes fear and suspicion, but love and tolerance and acceptance. Because I don’t believe God is Christian or Catholic or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim, but bigger than any of our fragile human classifications. Because his son was once a refugee. Because his son accepted and associated with people from all walks of life, regardless of the possible “risk” involved. And if that’s not how you see God, then I’m afraid we don’t follow the same one.
I understand and accept that I do not have The Solution for so many of the terrible things humanity faces today--I simply have my opinion. I don’t know the Right Answer for keeping guns out of the hands of people who would seek to do others harm. I don’t know the Right Answer for how to keep the load-balance of our country’s infrastructure and finances at a sustainable level. I don’t know the Right Answer for stopping ISIS or the next terrorist group. I don’t know the Right Answer for any of it.
I just know that as a member of the human race, I cannot see how denying suffering people even a modicum of peace and classifying people based on their religion can even be considered. It’s not something I will post in a meme or fill my Facebook statuses with; doing so seems to only rile up those who sit in opposition to my opinions. And I won’t argue with you that your opinion is wrong or mine is right. That doesn’t solve anything.
I will continue to donate, support, and vote my conscience. And I will show my daughter that for every person living in fear, there are those who move in love. That the loudest voice isn’t always speaking the best words. And that we study history to learn from it, not to repeat it.

Comments

( 26 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )
amberdreams
Dec. 6th, 2015 10:39 pm (UTC)
One - social media is a weird thing, and it does expose us sometimes to opinions we didn't know our 'friends' held and that we wish they didn't. So there is that. But expressing your outrage on social media is useful, I think. I do it myself on occasion.

Two - a resounding AYE to your assessment of the current fear-driven agenda of the right wing, pretty much everywhere (UK and US and elsewhere). We don't learn much from history when we are afraid. Rationality is the first casualty and people forget that terrorism is called that because that is exactly how it works - it tries to terrorise us into doing things we don't want to do. Sadly, it's working.

Still, I am comforted to a degree that many (most) of my friends are as horrified as I am by the crazed hate filled drivel of the Donald Trumps of this world. So maybe there is hope for the human race yet.
gaelicspirit
Dec. 7th, 2015 12:45 am (UTC)

Still, I am comforted to a degree that many (most) of my friends are as horrified as I am by the crazed hate filled drivel of the Donald Trumps of this world. So maybe there is hope for the human race yet.


I take comfort in that as well.
tifaching
Dec. 7th, 2015 01:07 am (UTC)
I agree completely. With everything. Any moment could be our last for a variety of reasons, many having to do with fellow human beings who are in no way Muslims. This hatred and fear mongering has reasons behind it and none of them are good. But you are right. Arguing on social media will change exactly zero minds And you are not alone in your feelings. There are many, many of us out there.
gaelicspirit
Dec. 7th, 2015 01:09 am (UTC)
And you are not alone in your feelings. There are many, many of us out there.

I am so, so glad to know this.
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Dec. 7th, 2015 02:32 am (UTC)
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candygramme
Dec. 7th, 2015 04:17 am (UTC)
Bravo. Please speak your truth wherever you can, not because it will change those whose whole reason for living is apparently to hate people different from themselves, but because there are those who might just consider your words and find them true.
gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 07:56 am (UTC)
Thank you for the encouragement. :)
nwhepcat
Dec. 7th, 2015 05:07 am (UTC)
I agree with so much of what you've said. I do post memes on Facebook, because I hope *some*thing will connect with the people I love. But seriously, this country is breaking my heart and I don't know what else to do about it.
gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 07:57 am (UTC)
My heart echoes that pain.
milly_gal
Dec. 7th, 2015 06:10 am (UTC)
Social media has become the 'Newsletter' of the day. You remember when papers printed letters from readers, which they still do, but I've found social media has replaced the 'letter writing' portion of people's need to express themselves. Sometimes that's a great thing - it gives voice to those who would not necessarily know how to express it, but on the flip side, people with an open mouth and closed mind have better access to shout their opinions from the rooftops.

It also gives voice to opinions you didn't know your friends held and sometimes that's a scary and disappointing thing. I only found out that a certain lady I was quite good friends with, found gay marriage 'an abomination' because of the stuff she posted/shared on her wall. It ruined that friendship for me and I never recovered from finding out something about her that up until then I never thought she was capable of - which was vitriolic and quite frankly nasty.

I'm both shocked and ashamed when looking at social media, but I'm lucky enough to have good friends who are as appalled at the hate filled ramblings of such complete pillocks as Donald Trump.
gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 08:00 am (UTC)
Honestly? I can't remember the last time I read a newspaper - I get what you mean.

I struggle hard to compartmentalize with some friends. Most of the time, when I discover we feel very, very differently about something I feel is important, I can set it aside and focus on our alikes rather than our differences. But sometimes...it colors everything about our connection.

Still, I suppose it's better to know, yeah?
milly_gal
Dec. 10th, 2015 11:13 am (UTC)
I still do occasionally, but they're SO depressing and they hate monger, so I try to avoid them most the time!

I try to keep this kind of stuff separate, but some people's opinions are so against my own grain, I just can't!

Yes, maybe!
shazza85
Dec. 7th, 2015 06:55 am (UTC)
It IS a burden sometimes to go through the the messages, tweets and post from your friends and family on social media. I know I have the full spectrum from libertarian, thru tee party, to socialism. What seems to be lacking are any posts from moderates, or ideas of bringing people together. I approach discussing politics or religion in a tentative manner if at all, which is sad because I like to hear what other people are thinking, even if I don't like what their thinking! I find that most people can't exchange their views in a calm manner and often don't listen to what the other is saying, because the are busy formulating ther next statement. Whether in person or on social media it is not an exchange of ideas but a regurgitation of previous statements. It's sad because that leaves little or no room for movement to consensus. Most people like to assert their differences rather than look for ideas they can agree on.

Thanks for making me think about these issues. I do love stories about your family. And by the way, your inclusive God sounds a lot like mine!😘
gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 08:04 am (UTC)
The thing that gets to me are those who take every statement as directed at them...and then proceed to lay out their opinion as fact. It takes everything in me to breathe, allow, think, scroll past.

Thanks for reading and commenting. :)
annie200
Dec. 7th, 2015 09:04 am (UTC)
Thank you for this post Gaelic. you express my feelings more eloquently than I can myself! As of this morning 30% of the first round of voting here in France has been in favour of the Front National. Much of the vote has been garnered as a consequence of exploiting the Paris attacks, meanwhile back in the UK we have voted to bomb Syria because apparently the Parisians were victims, but dead Syrians are merely collateral damage. Bizarrely Facebook, and blogs such as yours, gives me hope because in spite of those statuses which make me cringe it enables me to see that not every-one shares such horrific racist values. Before I retired I was a teacher, and it gives me huge boost to see that many of my ex-pupils now in their twenties and thirties are just as outraged as me by what is happening, so there is hope.
gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 08:05 am (UTC)
Bizarrely Facebook, and blogs such as yours, gives me hope because in spite of those statuses which make me cringe it enables me to see that not every-one shares such horrific racist values.

I'm so glad to read this. It's so hard to balance The World at large with the world I live in sometimes. Do you know what I mean?
tyrsibs
Dec. 7th, 2015 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this, Gaelic! I agree completely with what you've said.

Sometimes I think that outlets like Facebook make it too easy to opine without serious thought. See a meme, share it, and tell people who don't agree to just drive on. I believe passionately in free speech, and in everyone's right to expression--it's part of the reason that I chose the job I have. I also have friends and family who hold to the full spectrum of ideologies. But on social media, I am like you--I mostly keep myself to myself. So I really appreciate what you said about not arguing with someone not being equal to a tacit approval.

For the rest--this is not an answer, but maybe a reason to keep hope. I actually read this passage last night, in Stephen King's "11/22/63":

"For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms....A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.

Mike and Bobbi Jill danced in their time....And they were beautiful, and I loved them not in spite of their fragility but because of it. I love them still." (p. 616)
gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 08:07 am (UTC)
Oh, I love this: It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life.

I love how he pulls words together to say what I didn't know I needed someone to say.
Claudia Manfredini
Dec. 7th, 2015 05:06 pm (UTC)
This is a so inspiring post, and I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. I'm italian, so we are in a very rough spot about the whole immigration situation: every day a new boat of people fleeing from war and starvation is arriving on our shores, and we have more than a little trouble to find a viable way to deal with that, also considering that our economy is not exactly flourishing at the moment.

Maybe because we have a tradition of religious charity that in the past often helped our people through the many troubles we had (from the plague to the famine, to the several wars, to the many problems following our national unification), and maybe because so many of our grand-grandparents and ancient relatives went abroad just to find a better life, we were usually very tolerant toward immigrants. But lately I hear more and more often discontent and hostility. We accuse them of "robbing us of jobs" or of "feeding the criminal organizations" and we accuse our government of "caring more about them than about its citizens", because they have some facilitations for home and public healthcare. But now, with the whole "terrorism" alert (and we have a Catholic Jubilee opening tomorrow), the situation is even worse. And we are between the rock of the daily immigrants arrivals and the hard place of the recent European politics about not only immigrants, but the free circulation of the european citizens themselves.

But what our leaders don't seem to understand is that we can't stop them. That NOTHING could stop someone who's searching for a place to call "home", or fleeing to save his/her familiy from death, be it by mass ethnic genocide or by famine or by war o by poor socioeconomic condition. And all we are ever to achieve barring our frontiers, is to feed hate from both sides toward each other. The Paris terrorists weren't immigrants: they were children of immigrants, but born and raised in France. But raised in those "banlieues" that too often are real ghettos and offer no future or hope or meaning to the life of too many young people. It's not registering and controlling and closing that we can hope to stop THIS kind of terrorism. So the new racisms are not only nauseating, but also plain and simply stupid.

gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 08:09 am (UTC)
That NOTHING could stop someone who's searching for a place to call "home", or fleeing to save his/her familiy from death, be it by mass ethnic genocide or by famine or by war o by poor socioeconomic condition. And all we are ever to achieve barring our frontiers, is to feed hate from both sides toward each other.

So true. I heard a line from a song that said, "peace will come when one of us puts down the gun." Same is true of stopping the hate, I think.
hunenka
Dec. 8th, 2015 10:19 am (UTC)
I don't really have anything meaningful to add, but I just wanted you to know that I couldn't agree more. And that even though, especially on social media, it sometimes might seem to you like there are no like-minded people out there, you definitely aren't alone in your standpoint.
gaelicspirit
Dec. 9th, 2015 08:10 am (UTC)
Thank you -- I am so relieved to hear this.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 10th, 2015 01:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your great and beautiful thoughts!I'm really happy that there are still so many people like you out there,the people who care and the people who believe in humanity! What's going on these days in the world is horrible but I'm absolutely agree with you that we can't live with fear,but we can have faith and spread the love and beliefs!
I live in Tehran,and I'm a Muslim and I know people in my country respect every other cultures cause we are the keepers of a big civilization! I have so many world wide friends online and I love to communicate with people, regardless of their nation or religion and it makes me so glad to know they have a fair and nice opinion about everything that is going on about Muslims!
I wish the best for every single soul on </i>earth and I really want to thank you for making my heart warm!as always you wrote a piece and it was wonderful!
gaelicspirit
Dec. 10th, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
It's so great to hear from you on this -- someone for whom this is extremely relevant and personal.

Thank you for taking time to read this and share your response with me.

My best to you,
Gaelic
jazzyirish
Dec. 14th, 2015 11:48 pm (UTC)
Hi Gaelic, just wanted to let you know that I read and agree with you. We all would love to find a way to stop terrorism, but no one has accomplished that or will, IMO. If someone is determined to destroy and kill, then nothing will stop them. What I think is the true tragedy is that it seems that there are so many people who don't value human life - their own or others. Until our collective societies solve that problem, terrorism will prevail.

I don't really interact with social media, so if there are many who are radical or support ideas of a "Muslim registry" etc., I wouldn't know. What I do know is that we always are able to voice our objection to radical ideas, if we choose. Or are we the "silent majority?".

Thanks for choosing not to be silent.

Irish
gaelicspirit
Dec. 15th, 2015 02:01 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading. And understanding the need to speak out.
( 26 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )

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