On being … fearful

By Ingrid Sapona

On the surface, the senseless killing of yet another black man at the hands of police was a match that lit a tinderbox. The fire’s intensity shouldn’t really surprise anyone, as it’s been stoked by years of racism, hatred, contempt, and fear that’s been exposed and amplified by Trump’s actions and behaviours. 

Time and again, Trump has promoted hatred of different races – from his characterization of Mexicans as murderers and rapists, to his description of third-world countries as shitholes. And he has promoted racism – from his failure to condemn torch-baring white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville, to his recent use of racially charged phrases like “when the looting starts the shooting starts”.

Time and again, Trump has promoted violence. On the campaign trail in 2016 he told audience members he’d pay their legal fees if they engaged in violence against protesters. At a campaign rally in 2017 he praised a representative who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault of a reporter saying, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he is my type!” When protests erupted in Michigan and Minnesota against pandemic restrictions, he egged people on urging them to “liberate” their states. He even went a step further when he told people to “liberate Virginia, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It’s under siege!” Nothing like the commander-in-chief urging gun owners to storm statehouses locked and loaded.

And if turning citizens on each other doesn’t work, Trump and his administration have proclaimed their willingness to turn the military on citizens. In early June the U.S. Secretary of Defense compared protests in cities across the country to battlespaces, while Trump warned governors that if they don’t take back their streets, he’ll do it for them by sending in the military.

How can this be happening in the U.S.?

I think there are two possible explanations for how the fabric of America has worn so thin: fear or indifference. If someone’s truly indifferent in the face of all the hatred and violence, then I don’t imagine there’s much anyone can say that will motivate them to take notice, much less do something. But I find it hard to believe that so many people in the U.S. can be indifferent to the plight of others. I think that the main thing underlying the U.S.’s self-destruction is fear.

So, I’ve really been thinking about fear. I know fear is deeply personal and it can be debilitating. But I think the time has come for everyone to examine their own fear and to think about the consequences to the country – to the world – if you don’t move past it.

If you’re struggling with the bounds of your own fear, ask yourself a few simple questions: Are you willing to live with the fact that the notion of freedom and justice for all is a lie? Are you willing to persist in turning a blind eye to social injustice? Are you willing to stand by and let the government take up arms against peaceful protesters?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then now’s the time to take a stand. Let your fear motivate you to fight injustice and show that you believe that black lives matter. If we don’t demand accountability and change now, then the world will become much more dangerous for us all.

© 2020 Ingrid Sapona


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