When we look up we see sky.
We see freedom.
We see the bonds of the earth thrown free and the opportunity to soar just out of grasp.
We see an open tapestry that shows us the stars and the dreams beyond them.
It’s only when we’re caught up in their branches though do we see the trees.
Only then do we feel their clawing hands pulling us down, holding us close, grabbing us and whispering – No.
The problem is that the trees see us leaving and don’t want us to go.
The problem is the sky is calling us but doesn’t need us.
The problem is that we want to abandon one for the other when we don’t quite see how we need both to be whole.
We need the dream and the reality.
We need the earth and the air both.
Ah, but we get lost in one and caught up in the other.
The same goes with the blinding glare of self-awareness and the need to spread it out to all we see.
We mock that feeling and casually call it being ‘woke’ but there is an awakening, an act of seeing the whole of yourself and where you stand and the briefest glimmer of where you want to be. You see too how you were before and when you do that there’s a shame in the past and in seeing the foolish, angry, hateful, and sometimes bigoted things. It wasn’t that we meant them, not in the deeper sense, but we said them just the same, wielding words like swords and flailing about to put on a show. Some of us did worse things but that, that sort of thing is a well we won’t look into today.
The thing with that awakening though is that now that we see the world differently we want the world to be different and to have always been different. We want the liberty that should be there but isn’t. The notion of social justice has grown barnacles, being used to describe a movement and then to admonish the same. At its heart it means that we need to level the field so that people don’t feel automatically hated, hunted, and harmed. It means that we see all people as human first and that we care enough about their humanity to want them to have at least what we have. It is meant to start what will be a long conversation about how we treat one another and treat this world.
It won’t be an easy conversation, which is why so many people hate and avoid it.
Any time you want to change the status quo you will get the same anger, fear, and backlash.
The thing is though that it isn’t fair to turn your awakened eye upon all you see and damn it outright.
Context is still part of the equation.
As is the sheer fact that not everything done is meant as a slight.
It can feel that way and I am not here to tell anyone not to feel pain at the way that people of color were portrayed in the past. I am not here to tell anyone that the way that gays were portrayed was OK. I am not here to tell anyone that the casual way that trans people and people who crossdress were portrayed was OK. I am not here to whitewash, literally or figuratively, the past and to say ‘get over it’.
You shouldn’t have to.
Never get over it.
But we can’t always wield the past like a weapon against itself. It’s convenient, but not fair.
Some things are absolutes – genocide, murder, rape, slavery – none of those things should ever have been part of our fabric – but it is our nature to fear and distrust that which is not ‘us’. That is who we are as a species. It comes out in casual ways and in caustic ways. From the moving across the street to the hateful words spewed. It will take a long time for us to start smiling at one another and welcoming one another and not distrusting each other. A lot of time and a lot of work.
It may feel like banging your head against the wall but while you may not change the hearts of this generation you will start changing the hearts of the future.
Show them the world you didn’t get to see.
A world that was hidden before.
Don’t point your finger and point out every shame people should feel, screaming as you do.
Point it out and tell us why we could have done better and why we need to do better.
And that’s the thing.
And it sucks, and I am sorry that you have to wait for the world to change so you can feel more accepted.
It isn’t fair, if fairness can ever be said to be a true thing, but it’s the way it is.
Change comes slowly.
WE change slowly.
It’s not about being passive.
It’s not about accepting that things are as they are.
It’s about learning and teaching.
It’s about knowing that yes, we have a lot of work to do, but that you are going to help.
It’s about saying – that portrayal is lacking/offensive/hurtful/wrong and I want to tell you why. And tell us why and keep telling us. Don’t shame us into seeing what you see but help us to see it. Help us wake.
Don’t scream it.
The message is lost in a scream.
Over and over.
Until we finally shut up and listen.
Until we start to see that wow, I am not sure how I feel about that.
Until, how did they get away with that?
Until, that can’t happen again.
I wish that it was as easy as showing the world our true selves and being accepted and embraced.
But it isn’t.
It never has been that easy.
It never will be.
And we’re all going to have to work on ourselves if we’re ever going to soar.
We cannot forget the ground where we stand, the place we come from, but we have better things, greater things, grander things ahead of us when we finally choose to change.
When we all finally decide to wake.