So many thoughts and emotions swirling through me this afternoon. So many images in my brain…things I didn’t need to see, yet wanted to see so that somehow I could understand what they were talking about. They being the news commentators on NPR. Fortunately, we do not have television in this house. So I am not tempted to turn it on and click through the channels, being bombarded by the onslaught of the media. Instead, I have sat at my computer since last night…trying to find new bits of information, being overwhelmed by sadness and despair at the state of this world, then abruptly turning off the power and returning to my daily routines.
Because that is what happens, isn’t it? An unspeakable tragedy occurs…that slowly becomes speakable…and then passes into a state of being acceptable…and then worms its way into the past…to be put on a shelf, tucked away from the daily routines of life…to be, unfortunately, relegated to the distance. And then we slowly forget the chaos, the terror, the great sadness at what has become of us–a people, a nation. Until the next time……………
………………..and there will be a next time. Won’t there? Newtown, CT. Still fresh in some peoples’ minds…yet now possibly eclipsed by the latest tragedy. Are there no new words to use besides these? Tragedy. Unspeakable. Terror. I must dig out the thesaurus because it seems that at some point, we need to find new words. If only to mark this time as being different. This time we’re going to react differently. This time we’re going to remember…and hold on to it…and change.
But will it be so? This time?
Sadly I don’t think so.
And all last night and today I’ve been reminded of the above quote…”the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Interestingly, this quote has been widely and for quite some time attributed to Edmund Burke, a great Irish philosopher. But much work has been done to confirm this, with no success. It seems this quote is actually some sort of interpretation of something he actually did say, many years ago, that has been reworded and reworked through time. JFK was one of the ones to use these exact words. But I digress…)
The words have been running through my brain in a constant loop. What can we do to avoid the evil acts of yesterday from triumphing? What can I do? And then I heard something that was said today, somewhere in the vicinity of our idyllic mountain home.
I quote loosely…paraphrasing…”well, sure hope the person who did this was a Muslim, not a white man.”
Why? Because then you would have incontrovertible proof that all Muslims are bad? Because then your hatred of all things and people different from you would be justified? Because then your belief in white supremacy would be proven to be true?
This is evil. Your racist, ignorant, bigoted beliefs are evil. And I now know what I can do to prevent the triumph of this evil.
I sat quietly by when I heard our President referred to as a “nigger.” (Please forgive me for using that word…this is a direct quote in this case.)
I sat quietly by, while working in a local restaurant, when I heard a joke made loudly about some Kenyan village missing their idiot.
I sat quietly by while I was referred to as a pinko, fag-lovin’, Subaru-drivin’ liberal.
I removed the bumper stickers from my car when my car was vandalized for me expressing my beliefs–I removed them because I was frightened there would be violence perpetrated against me and my daughter.
But no more. To sit quietly by is for this good person, me, to do nothing. And I will no longer allow evil to thrive, in my small little corner of the world. I will not let it pollute the air I breathe.
Ignorance is evil. Intolerance is evil. Bigotry is evil. And I do not use the word “evil” lightly. I never have. I never will.
But in this case, I feel strongly, with every fiber of my being, that it is warranted. The acts yesterday in Boston were evil. But the ignorant rhetoric being tossed around today is evil as well. It does nothing to help this nation. The angry, ignorant, intolerant, bigoted rhetoric is not that of a “patriot.” I highly doubt that our founding fathers, who so many are so quick to hide behind these days, would have condoned intolerant, vile, bigoted words as being either American or patriotic.
The wish that the perpetrators of this heinous act in Boston are Muslim is sick. It is based in ignorance and fear. It is based in hatred and intolerance. These are not the measures of good men. These are the characteristics of cowards. Yes, cowards. They mark the people who utter these wishes as something akin to the one who wiped out six and a half million Jews simply because they looked different and were thought to be inferior. These cowards are akin to the ones who wore white cloaks and burned crosses and committed unspeakable acts on a people who were of a different color or ancestry. SHAME ON YOU. Shame on you.
We must not let this evil permeate our society. We must not let this evil triumph. For this evil, this intolerance, this bigotry, this racism, this hatred, is what will feed the hatred that caused the act in Boston yesterday. Hatred breeds hatred. We must fight this evil with good.
Because, in the end, good will triumph. It is the beauty of our human nature. It is the bright side to the small, darker side. We can rise above the evil. The people in Boston yesterday who performed heroic acts rose above the evil of the day. The parents and family members of the 26 victims in Newtown, CT have slowly started rising above the evil that touched their lives on December 14, 2012.
And I for one will no longer tolerate the intolerant, bigoted, small-minded, racist rhetoric that I hear on a daily basis. I will no longer sit by…and do nothing.
Vaya con dios.