You and I have a problem on our hands.
Somewhere out there in my country and in yours, sleeping in the darkness are young, impressionable children whose parents will teach them that what Donald Trump has said is not only okay, but better than what others are saying. As a working-class adult in 2015, I individually and collectively share in the responsibility and the shame of permitting the conditions that will have resulted in those children growing up to advance Trump’s perverse values. What Trump is saying is not new, in fact scapegoating races and religions for the sake of political power throughout the last century and to some degree this one too. The fact that this particular man got as far as he did without me recognizing exactly what he was doing and acting even a little bit to counter his message is a failure of my own social awareness. Decades from now, the generation that is growing up will face down the consequences of my own criminal negligence.
The time has passed in which I can prevent Trump’s template of behavior from being promoted. Those children are being told right now, it is good and right for you to hate.
While the voting moderate majority of the population of the United States currently understands that it must at all costs prevent Trump from obtaining any further political power, I am here to say that this is only the beginning of a larger cycle. It is my specific responsibility, and the responsibility of all the adults that similarly failed, to do everything in our power to plant seeds to counteract this virulent strain of enmity and tyranny to all.
What is an action that can counteract tyranny and fascism? Suffering. What I would term charitable suffering. I, Sara Jarjoura, commit to taking every possible opportunity for myself to be personally uncomfortable on behalf of those who are being and will continue to be persecuted.
What I don’t mean by suffering is penance. I do not think that by charitable suffering I can somehow redeem my own past inaction. The point of charitable suffering is that my actions may undo some of the damage to the future.
That all being said, the good news is that it is clearer than ever that this torch is not new, but has been handed down through the generations. It is up to us now to maintain in power and preserve those forces, social, religious, legal, political, economic, and cultural, that hold the darkness at bay. We must be the ones who are incapable of disregarding the essential worth of every human being. How do we ensure this quality of compassion in ourselves? We must choose to experience, to some degree, how it feels to be the target of hatred.
Think of it as an ethical inoculation. Get your flu shot. Wear a head scarf.
We must choose the sting of the pebbles of ignorance to ward off the sharp stones of intolerance.
What of those friends of ours who admire Trump and others like him? Or those who think it is not in fact my problem? These are your friends and my friends, and it is their hands that will throw the first stone.
At first, my friend will laugh. Hahaha lol. You must have so much time on your hands.
After a while but before you expect, the comments will come. Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Weirdo.
All the while, doors will be accidentally and consistently shut in your face. The car was going too fast to let you cross the street. The other person in line was here first. Try again later.
Choose this. Choose to be the one that gets overlooked because you are not like the rest of them. And when your friend betrays you, forgive her. Forgive him. Every time.