My husband is googling “The Declaration of Independence”.
I am just trying to breathe: a tempest of emotions, thoughts, and fears attacking rationality.
I try to think back to another time when I felt such terror…to reassure myself that this will all pass…but I think about my son who recently converted to Muslim for the love of a woman, and her family (Canadian citizens) whose origins trace back to Somali…my kin now. Will the hatred being propagated next door, spill over to them, to my future grandchildren?
Prejudice is ever-present; I get that. I learned it from my father, who would come home after a long day of selling cars to rail against “those” people: who I won’t list here, but who also included Rambler drivers. Rambler drivers were the worst, according to Father. Once he didn’t speak to me for a whole week, just because I dated a man whose mother tongue was not English.
“Prejudice,” I learned in the eleventh grade, “is based in ignorance. We fear what we don’t understand.”
It was a revolutionary moment for me: the realization that knowledge and investigation could transform hatred. I felt relieved to know to that I was not called upon to take sides with one people against another, and, in fact, had the opportunity to grow through exploring differences. My world opened up.
As did my recognition of the enormity of work that needed to be done to eradicate ignorance – within my family, my community, and beyond.
Discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender, social standing, ability, religion, age, or anything else is not acceptable, and we are all called to be warriors in the fight for rights.
The words are there in The Declaration of Independence, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and so on.
It remains to us to act upon such wisdom.