Most of us like to think we would be the hero in a crisis, we think we would be the person to stand up to a bank robber, or to risk our own lives for the sake of our families or the greater good. Most people never are faced with a choice like that, and those who are often don’t act the way they hoped.
Today, not in the face of anything that personal, but something I believe to be as important, I found out that I am not a hero, I’m not even an ordinary man willing and able to do the very bare minimum. I’m a coward.
Over the last several years, there have been protests that I’ve believed in, but I was able to justify not attending because it was always ten or not hours away. I lived in Massachusetts, so when the protests were going on in Ferguson, it was easy to justify not going because it was too far.
Now I live in North Carolina, and so I’m closer to where a lot of the protests are happening. Today, in Charlottesville Virgina (which is only about three hours away from me) the Klan, Neo-Nazi and an other white supremacy groups were organizing a rally in a park called Emancipation Park.
I should be going to counter protest, to lend my body to the ranks of people trying to show they have more support than the literal haters. But I haven’t gone, and I’m not likely to go. The reason for my absence isn’t moral ambiguity, or lack of time, instead it’s fear. The truth is, if there are beatings, or pepper spraying, or God forbid worse violence, I’m scared of the personal impact.
All day today, the more I have heard about this ongoing event, the more I have been overcome by guilt and shame. I cannot think of any argument that I have been more clear on in my head, and yet my convictions aren’t enough motivation to go stand for what is right.
It may seem less obvious to many of you, but to me, it seems today’s events are a clear movement in a worse direction. There has been a lot of talk about the ’emboldening’ of racists in this country over the last two years, but this is coupled with a federal government unable to accomplish anything, and talking now about possibly suspending the 2020 elections due to illegal immigrants voting.
I’m terrified and ashamed. Edmund Burke said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I think right now to do nothing is disqualifying from being ‘good,’ and I have done nothing, and make no mistake I do not kid myself for one second that this post or Facebook memes are doing something. Something real must be done, by everyone possible.
My intention in writing this, is that maybe I will be told about something I can do that I will be brace enough to do, or at the very least to shame myself enough to act.