Brave Suna, Part 2B: Public Bravery

Since we’ve added a very appropriate new focus of concern for the people of the country where I live, I’ve found it harder and harder to concentrate and more and more difficult to see the positive in things. This is the other area where I need to be brave. Let’s hope the horse stuff helps me.

It’s been bad enough watching people turn dealing with a pandemic into a partisan thing, but now I see the exact same thing going on with protests about the death of a black man at the hands of a police officer (and more). People seem WAY more interested in deflecting from the actual issue (systematic racism) to other issues, in the most polarizing way possible. I am just sick about it.

First I Want to Say This

NOT ALL POLICE OFFICERS ARE SOCIOPATHIC KILLERS.
NOT ALL PROTESTERS ARE LOOTERS.
THIRD PARTIES, LIKE ANARCHISTS, WHITE SUPREMACISTS, RUSSIAN AGENTS, AND THE LIKE WANT TO DISTRACT US FROM THIS:
OUR SOCIETY MUST TAKE CONCRETE ACTION TO DEAL WITH RACISM OR WE ARE NOT A JUST AND FREE SOCIETY LIKE WE CLAIM TO BE.

Well, Suna, what qualifies you to say this?

Does personal experience count? I KNOW more than one ethical and principled police officer. In person. I’ve hugged them. I KNOW more than one passionate and peaceful protester who is willing to take action to improve the lives of black and brown people in this country. In person. I’ve hugged them. I’ve given birth to them.

That said, I am totally aware that telling people how to think and feel is not a useful tactic, because people will believe what they are already primed to believe. I’m primed to believe good things about liberals, socialists, actual communists (the very few real ones, not the “all media members are commies ones”), non-sensationalist news outlets, and intelligent people with backgrounds in the subjects they are talking about. I also think there are capitalists who try to do good in the world, and businesses that aren’t out to smash poor people.

So, news that fits in with my world view is more likely to be believed by me. I totally get it that if you are primed to believe liberals hate Good Americans, and all the associated beliefs, you will believe other angles. We’re just stuck with that. Can’t fix it all by myself.

What Can Brave Suna Do?

Or brave you, or anyone, for that matter. I get conflicting advice. One school of thought is to not let myself get all worked up about things not in my sphere of control. I can’t change people’s minds. I can’t cure diseases. I can’t make people learn to be less racist (other than me). So, I should just let go and stare at nature some more. Bravery, in this case, is being brave enough to live the Serenity Prayer, darn it.

I’m trying.

But, I need the wisdom to know what I can and can’t control, right? Another set of advice I get tells me I need to speak up. I need to let the world know that the stereotypes of people like me are not all true. I need to not only say I’m an ally but BE an ally to people struggling. I need to listen to them and to learn where I can do better and maybe even make a difference.

And sometimes when I listen, I hear that, dear old white liberal lady, it’s not your time or place to protest. You have lived a life of privilege and have no clue what it’s like to be marginalized. Shut up and let the people who know the issues first hand figure out what to do. It’s not your job. I get that.

It’s hard to be a person with empath traits when there is a lot of hurting going on. You take on the pain and suffering of others around you, even if you don’t experience it yourself, but of COURSE you aren’t directly experiencing it. You want so badly to help, to make the world a better place for all of us, but you may not even have the right tools.

A sure-fire way to get eggs thrown at your house? Or worse?

So, what can you or I do to be brave about our convictions in public?

It feels really inauthentic, and to be honest, chickenshit, to do nothing when you see your friends’ neighborhoods being destroyed, your children putting their lives in danger to support others, other people’s children being killed just because they look a certain way, your friends’ husbands feeling uncomfortable in their own neighborhoods. All that. It won’t do. It sure won’t make our society any better.

One thing I can do is model the behavior I’d like to see in others and hope someone notices, I guess. I sure can’t order people to notice their biases (I DO try to notice mine). We can all give that one a try.

Plus, I guess I must speak up publicly. As much as I really dislike being labeled and insulted, I will calmly state what I believe, and when I hear false information, present another viewpoint. That may not be much, but it is one way to make it clear that the vast majority of us, no matter what label we put on ourselves, just want ourselves and our neighbors to live in peace and safety, even if they look different from us, worship differently from us, or love differently from how we do.

Why is that so hard? Humans, you disappoint me, deeply. And I’m human. I’m not proud of it right now.

I’m physically sick. I’d flee, but there’s no place to go. Must be brave and stick it out with the rest of the humans, many of whom are in much worse shape than me. George Floyd doesn’t have that option anymore.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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