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Silence Is Not an Option

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“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond.” — Fred Rogers

I can’t shake the massacre of this weekend. I feel so many things. Hopeless, sick to my stomach, angry, fearful, and so desperately sad that hate crimes are becoming a regular occurrence.

How to respond to such evil? Such hatred? I don’t have answers. But I do know that being silent on this forum of Facebook is no longer tenable for me. (It never was, and let me be clear I never believed it to be, but I let my discomfort with sharing my self, my truth, my vulnerabilities on social media grow into silence).

Honestly, social media is the last place I want to be in these moments of crisis. I long to share human, face to face connection during these moments of stunned outrage, grief, and sadness. I want to share a hug, share tears with friends, share rage and sorrow, and then make a plan of what we can do to respond.

I can’t tell you how many posts I started to write — after the Charleston church shooting, the Pulse nightclub shooting, after the shooting of Philando Castile, after Charlottesville, after the Portland train attack. Each time I started to write, but I let my fears of expressing my vulnerability, my fear of saying it wrong, of not doing enough, of not being enough, fear of my privilege discrediting me, getting the better of me. Fear of reactions I would get, fear of the non-reactions. Fear of my post just dying in the faced paced world of social media. Fear of no one caring about what I had to say anyway.

Well, I just can’t do that any more. I can’t accept that. This is too big. This is bigger than my fear. I can’t give in to my fear and silence any longer.

I say to my Jewish friends, colleagues, and neighbors — I am thinking of you, I am grieving with you, although I know it doesn’t do anything to lessen the pain and the anguish you are experiencing.

I say to everyone who reads this post— no matter your religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or background — what happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue this weekend is everyone’s problem. The problem is the growing fragmentation, isolation, fear, and hatred growing in our society. The problem is divisiveness and “othering” of whole groups of people for their thoughts, their beliefs, their identities, and how they express themselves. I will not tolerate this othering of people — at the macro level or at the micro level. I will not tolerate bigotry or hatred in any form, and I will not tolerate hate speech and demeaning speech in the many insidious ways in which it is expressed — including jokes and many other subtle ways that we perpetuate bias and intolerance within our social groups.

Among the targets of the alleged killer’s online vitriol was HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, founded in 1881, which today is one of nine organizations that works with the federal government to help resettle refugees who come to America. Please consider donating to the organization in memory of those died in Pittsburgh. You can do so on my Facebook page or by visiting hias.org.

Alison Keller, an LGBTQ community ally, originally posted this on Facebook.com.

Updated 4:26 pm, November 1, 2018
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Reader feedback

MJJ from Queens says:
Hmmm. But notice you didn't mention being upset by the Black Lives Matters gunman Mica Xavier Johnson killing five police officers in Dallas in 2016.
Nov. 2, 1:04 am

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