A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about my experiences and some introspection after hiking to a site called “Murphy’s Ranch.” (You can read that post here.) I found myself reflecting back on what I’d written while driving home last night. In that post, I made reference to Martin Niemöller, and the experiences I had yesterday brought me right back to that post. Yesterday I attended a protest at the LAX Bradley International Airport terminal because the recent travel ban is wrong. I find I’m even having a difficult time writing this right now because of the emotions of yesterday.
Isis is a real threat, but banning immigrants is not the solution. I am a white woman who prescribes to Christianity. My family is Irish of descent, and my ancestors faced a lot of discrimination when they came over from Ireland. That doesn’t mean you should assume I agree with the violent acts of the IRA or the Westboro Baptist Church or that I voted for Hillary Clinton or that I’m intolerant of other people’s world views. You shouldn’t assume anything. And if you do, you should stop doing that and then do some self-reflecting about why you are so quick to jump to conclusions about someone you don't know.
You can’t assume anything based on anyone just because of what they look like. Yes, Isis is a problem. Terrorism is a problem. But the overwhelming majority of Muslims abhor Isis in the same way the overwhelming majority of Christians abhor the Westboro Baptist Church. Radical Islamic Terrorism is just that: radical. It’s extreme. It’s not the norm, so although we should be doing more to figure out how to stop it, we shouldn’t be condemning the innocent because of the guilty. And that’s why I marched yesterday. I marched because I know and love people from all different walks of life. People kept wanting to take pictures of my friends and I yesterday and my friend said it was because we were all different. And we were. And that’s what makes America a beautiful place. Our country was founded by immigrants because of conflict. Conflict is good; it means that something is not in harmony, which makes room for growth. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I even dislike some people from other walks of life, too, and that’s okay. Because differences and disagreements are part of life. You don’t have to like everyone you meet. Hell, we don’t even all have to get along, but we do have to learn that just because something is different from us does not mean it is wrong. Being scared of something different has a lot more to do with someone’s personal issues and insecurities than with the thing that’s actually different.
This is a stupid metaphor and I’m sorry I can’t do better right now, but my heart still aches for the people unjustly banned from entering our country.
If I look outside my window and I see a palm tree, I can assume it’s just another palm tree like all other palm trees. If my brother looks out his window in Florida and sees a palm tree, he can assume it’s just another palm tree like all other palm trees. And we’d both be wrong. The palm trees in Florida are not the same as the palm trees in California. And the specific palm tree we see is not the same as the other palm trees around it. Each palm tree has its own unique journey: some are small and not fully grown; some are tall with a rich, beautiful history; some are rotten inside; and some are struck down by lightning or cut down before they’ve fully grown. By assuming all palm trees are the same, we’ve now just ignored the most important truth of all - they are not.
There have been a lot of references to Hitler and fascism in regards to Donald Trump. But that is not going to happen. And I’m not saying it’s not going to happen because there aren’t similarities. I’m saying it’s not going to happen because the thousands of other people I saw and interacted with yesterday showed me that it is not going to happen. I studied Stalin very intensely in college as my final paper for my Russian Area Studies Concentration was written on him. It was fascinating to see how his followers in the Soviet Union became so enamored with him - much like the Germans with Hitler during World War II. And much like Hitler, Stalin wanted and attempted to wipe out every Russian citizen that was not of pure Russian descent (never mind that Stalin was actually born in Georgia and not Russia), and the death toll under Stalin’s rule greatly outnumbered Hitler’s.
I’m going off on a tangent, but my point is this: I marched and protested because a group of people is being targeted and blamed for something that does not apply to the overwhelming majority of their members. They are losing their voice - the voice that God gave them. We may not agree on a number of things, but human beings are human beings, and we all deserve a voice. Yes, even ignorant jerks who tell you to “grow up” while you’re marching against injustice; they deserve a voice, too. But I got home last night, and I prayed for that man. I prayed that he would see that just because something does not apply to him does not make it any less important. That man may never come to that conclusion, which is sad, but I still feel hope. I feel hope because of all the other beautiful, loud, empowered people who found their voices yesterday and used those voices on behalf of a group that is being bullied into silence.