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It's Not Okay

December 18, 2017

You may have noticed the frequency with which I share things on social media has increased quite a bit over the past few months. Beginning with the occasional “I try not to share political or controversial posts” to including my own angry tirades. I have found that it’s no longer acceptable to remain quiet. Attempting to avoid controversy in favor of complacency is, in my opinion, just as bad as perpetuating the injustice itself. 


I can’t quite pinpoint the moment of change in the last year that has led me to feel more confident and unashamed to share my opinion. It could be the disappointment of the 2016 election cycle. It could be the newfound confidence of a new life in London. It could be the frequency with which intellectual conversations arise, forcing me to find and understand my own opinion. It could be the string of headlines from tax reform to sexual assault, tugging me back home. Or it could be from spending all of my time at a vet school. 


Whatever it is, it has been enough to allow me to say with conviction that there are some serious issues today that we take for granted that are not okay. 


The largest tax reform in 30 years passed the House and the Senate. Codifying changes that disproportionately benefit the wealthy under the auspices of being better for working class. A multiple hundred page document that was rushed through the Senate in such a shady way that there were literally illegible edits scribbled in the margins. A bill that does not represent the majority.


This is not okay.


Then President Trump made an announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, throwing into jeopardy the already rocky and perilous conditions of the people that live in the region. Spurring protests and more violence against people who already struggle to survive.


This is not okay.


In this time, women around the nation are coming forward about their experiences with sexual assault and are being met with everything from support and advocacy to indifference and character defamation. Media moguls and senators alike are being held accountable, investigated, or stepping down. Some (very few) may even be coming forward to admit they are part of the problem. Meanwhile, the current POTUS is a man who admitted to and bragged about assaulting various women, and yet there have been no repercussions, no questions asked, no investigations, just acceptance.


This is not okay.


And on that note, there are thousands of cases of sexual harassment every day that are not reported--that are a part of every day life for millions of women around the world. Cat-callers and snide remarks, telling a woman walking down the street to smile more, a "free" cup of coffee that comes with the price of making you uncomfortable in a public space, relentlessly knocking on the window of the restaurant you're eating at.


This is not okay.

 

Last week, I watched this documentary about Dolores Huerta (an amazing and incredible civil rights leaders I'm ashamed to never have learned about in school). At one point in the film, as non-violent protesters are being beaten, we hear President George H.W. Bush narrate "America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle." This is a sentiment I pray to be true, but it is hard to believe it in the hypocrisy of some of our practice. In the disparities across the country largely based in race, in the preference of policies benefiting the rich or large businesses and ignoring the poor or working class, in the way we teach and talk about--or more accurately don't teach or talk about--"the ugly side" of our history (see: slavery, civil rights movements, military interventions of the 20th century, etc.).


This is not okay.  


It is too easy to turn a blind eye to these seemingly small injustices. It is too easy to say that if it doesn't affect you, it doesn't matter.  If nothing else, remember the lines from Martin Niemoller's poem: 

 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- 

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- 

Because I was not a Trade Unionist. 

 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- 

Because I was not a Jew.

 

Then they came for me -- 

and there was no one left to speak for me. 


I urge you to speak out. You don't have to be a crusader or this century's activist to speak out when something is just humanely wrong. Do something small--inform yourself on the issue, educate others, VOTE. For the love of all that is good and democratic, vote on Election Day in 323 days and every election day after that. Hold your elected officials accountable to actually represent the people they are supposed to represent and not their own interests (see: Georgia's Campus Carry, the recent federal tax bill, etc.).


Sometimes it feels a little like the world is falling apart. But that implies that things were fine before, that the world was in one piece in the first place, which I don't think is necessarily true. Many of these problems have been problems for a while. We are just now starting to recognize them, to talk about them in new ways. And while it is devastating to read the headlines and to watch the violence and to remember the sick, the dying, and the dead, maybe this apocalyptic discourse will spur us from talking about it to acting on it. To kick us out of this complacency with the injustices of the world and to say they are not okay.

 

 

 

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