“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
In the wake of the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers, I have seen this quote popping up throughout social media. (Usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, though I have also seen that challenged). For the last 24 hours I have been following the news updates, reading emotional, painful posts from friends and strangers alike, and continually coming back to this quote in my mind. It doesn’t sit right with me.
When taken very literally, yes, I am unaffected. I am a white, middle-class, heterosexual woman who works as a corporate professional and lives in a country where my religion is practiced freely. I have not been forced to flee from my home. I do not live in poverty. I am not hated for the color of my skin or the sex of the person I married.
But this is where that translation ends. I may not fall into any of the categories that threaten my immediate safety, but I am affected. Please understand, I do not for one second think that my emotional outrage is on any level of comparison to those who are living in actual fear and danger. But those people living in actual fear and danger are my people. They are your people. We do not live in this world alone. If you are watching all of this and believe you are unaffected, then you are fueling the problem.
No matter your perspective, your politics, your heritage, people are scared and people are losing their lives because of hate, and that can never leave you unaffected. Friends that grew up alongside me, friends in my church family, coworkers, and neighbors are struggling in a very real way, and that affects me. They are police officers who are in increasingly greater danger because of the despicable actions of a hateful few. They are parents who have to teach their children to take special precautions so as not to be perceived as a criminal because of their skin color. They are business owners who have to fear hate crimes because they were born in another country. I live with and alongside these people, and it is my responsibility as a fellow human being to be affected and fight with them to make this insanity stop.
I don’t have answers. I feel hopeless and disappointed and heartbroken. So while I look and wait for opportunities to be a part of driving change, I’m going to seek out the truth. I’m going to listen and support. I’m going to stand beside my friends and neighbors. I’m going to continue to raise my children to be kids, and later adults, who are inclusive and loving and warriors for those who need it. I will ensure that my scope of influence will never look at the suffering of others and feel unaffected.