Fear Closes Doors

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David Wong wrote a comic piece for cracked called “10 Simple Facts To Make You Feel Better About This Year’s Election.”  The piece is, quite simple, poignant, funny and brilliant. But mostly it’s a relief after an onslaught of hateful anti-Muslim Facebook and Twitter posts. It truly astounds me how quickly people will jump to hate when fear is in play. Was what happened in Brussels terrifying and wrong? Absolutely. It was meant to both harm and terrify people. That was the pointless point behind those ugly attacks. But those attacks were bred in the same hateful mentality that led some people to post things like, “All Muslims deserve to burn for this.”

Besides that statement being truly ignorant, it also shows that those who post things like this have let terrorism do it’s job-they have let fear turn to hate. They are letting hate rule them. It’s hard to know what to say when someone you think you know posts something like this. So I stated simply that I have friends who are Muslim and that I thought that was a truly ugly thing to write. I acknowledged that that sort of hatred is bred in fear and that I won’t allow fear to run my life. I had to write this statement several times. It made me very very sad to have to do so. Because I love some of the people who are writing those hateful things. Or I know them. Or I thought I did.

I was not astounded but was disappointed when people jumped to stand up for the ugly statement, asking me to fear for my life as a woman, who colors her hair, who would not be safe walking in this or that country. No one needs to remind me that I am a target simply for being a woman. What I wanted to say, but did not say, is that I am a target here, in the U.S., and that he just proved that. I am a target because I am a woman and that is the case no matter which country I live in.

My statement of displeasure was quickly met with an attack on my femininity-a reminder that woman are abused for their hair choice or for simply being women, daily. But that doesn’t just happen “there” folks. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I can tell you that that happens everywhere, even in your beloved country. The fact that I am a target does not make me fear. If I feared that reality, I would not leave the house.

And that’s why reading Wong’s article made me feel lighter. I don’t argue with ugliness and hate, though I will stand against it. But the fact that he recognized the fear, what it is, what it does, brought me some relief. He writes:

“As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, the key is not to confuse “Fear clouds your thoughts” with “The world is free from danger.” The world is dangerous as shit! But fear shuts down the rational-thinking part of your brain, and these problems need rational thought, goddammit.”

And he’s right on point. It’s okay to understand the dangers you’re faced with. It would be foolish to pretend that there is nothing to fear in a world where school shootings, rape, hate crimes and, yes, bombings occur daily. We need to face our problems with clear heads, rational choices and thought-out solutions. We need to understand that whatever percentage of this or that group carries out hateful things is not representative of the whole.

I’m Christian, and people do all sorts of awful shit in the name of Christ, they have for centuries. The only reason people can rail on Muslim people is because, in this country, they are a minority. And minorities are fair game for hatred here. It is easier to blame immigrants, Muslims, gay and lesbian people, for the country’s problems then to understand that those are not the people running our country. Those are the people under the thumb of unfair prejudice and anger, under the rule of those in power here. If anything, those are the people who have a right to live in fear.

Yet, my queer and minority friends are not as hateful as some of my majority culture friends. They are not as often prone to hateful or fearful posts. And I have to think it’s because they’ve learned to not live in fear. After all, it would be hard to be different in a country where Donald Trump can run as a valid candidate, on a platform of hate and bigotry. They live as outsiders in a world who would label them as an extension of evil because telling the difference between terrorists and neighbors is just too hard. So maybe they got over letting fear rule them, so they that they can live. And maybe majority people are not used to being afraid. Maybe white men are not used to being afraid for being who they are. Because that’s where most of those Twitter, Facebook hateful posts come from.

Let’s agree, no matter where we stand politically, that hatred is wrong. That there are friends, sons, daughters, and lovers out there who are not like you, but are not automatically terrorists because of their differences. Maybe they are Muslim. Maybe they have brown eyes like that one terrorist. Maybe they listen to the same music that person did before he shot up a school. Well, most men I interact with are white, and I don’t see them as a school shooter, my rapist, or that guy who once told me he’d rather kill me than lose me. I don’t do that to every white male I see. I don’t fear them for how they are similar to people who have hurt me or those I love. Because fear will shut you down. It will make you a person who could condone or even conduct  acts as terrible as what we’ve witnessed in the news recently.

My heart goes out to Brussels. I pray for peace daily. To all those who are suffering pain at the hands of hate, my love and support is behind you.