Okay, so yesterday I was talking to this incredible, strong, young woman – my daughter – and we were discussing the rage versus apathy in our society today. Why would people fighting racism seem less concerned with misogyny or sexism (and visa versa)? Why would neither appear as concerned with Islamophobia? And those people were not outraged enough over homophobia and LGBT discrimination. Who even has time left to battle xenophobia? The fact is, we are facing a culmination of recognizing and battling inequality in our nation and the world. (Sorry if I have left anyone out.)
So, why is that black woman more concerned with racism or Black Lives Matter than she is with women’s rights? Even though she is as subject to misogyny as the next woman? Maybe because she has two teenage sons and she is scared near to death they will get pulled over one night for running a top sign and never come home again. Maybe because she cares, feels and sees the acts of racism more vividly than she does discrimination because she is a woman. Perhaps because her children’s lives mean more to her than her own. It doesn’t make misogyny less important, just a less important battle in her life, because something else threatens her more. That is not a value to judge against her, but to appreciate. The same with the victim of misogyny or rape culture. The injustices she has witnessed or been subjected to make her a valuable asset to that fight.
The fact is, there are so many injustices to be outraged over: Racism, Environment, Misogyny, Rape Culture, Oligarchy, unjust wars, gun violence, terrorism, religious discrimination, global warming, animal cruelty, pollution, LGBT inequality… and it goes on and on. Every person cannot conjure enough outrage for every battle, they would be spread too thin. People can’t do it. Instead, we gravitate to the issue we most identify with, to which we feel the greatest connection. If I work to advocate for women’s rights, it does not mean I believe battling racism is less important. For those working diligently in BLM to change the relationship of police in our society and stop the brutal and senseless acts of brutality and abuse of power committed against citizens and, disproportionately, the black community, it does not mean they are less horrified by the abominable rape culture and how privileged white boys are getting away with little or no punishment for violent sex crimes against women and even children.
What we need to realize is that it is not a competition. In fact, it is the complete opposite of competition. Not everyone is going to share your drive for the issue you fight for. Not only is that okay, it is wonderful. It is great. The world is too large for any one of us. There are too many battles. The best we each can do to make our world better is to stand for something, to be a voice of change, an inspiration for thought, and a catalyst for new ideas.
You see, while there are so many different battles and the front line looks different everywhere you go, there is only one war. We fight for equality. We fight for every person’s right to life and liberty and justice, to breath clean air and drink clean water, to learn and grow and contribute to our world without fear, to love and be loved. So, though we may each be fighting different battles, we are partners in painting the much larger landscape of our future.
So, please, do not be incensed that someone is more concerned with the battle they are fighting than the one that enrages you. This is the divisive tactic of the oppressor. They want us to argue among ourselves, belittle one another, because it makes us weaker. Those who oppose the changes which will make our world freer, cleaner, and healthier do so to keep their own power, to protect their own wealth, to support their greed, and to promote their bigotry, which makes them feel superior to other people. It is like saying sexual assault is a small thing compared to the threat of ISIS or terrorism. NO. Because one bad deed does not excuse or demean the horror of another deed. One cause does not have greater weight or undermine the legitimacy of another. Do not be divided by those who plant that seed of doubt; who wish to undermine our effectiveness for a new and better world. Do not seek to quiet another soldier, in a different battle, for fear your battle cry won’t be heard.
Instead, let us encourage one another. Let us draw on each other’s passion and strength, learn effective tactics and, most of all, be proud we are serving together. Alone we are only whispers in the darkness, a leaf rustling in the wind. When we support one another and encourage each other, when we are united, our voices cannot be silenced. United, we change the world.
We are One Woman, One World.
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