From where I sit

I have been silent lately. I don’t want to add to the cacophony of voices. And yet, I feel things so deeply. I am beyond saddened at man’s inhumanity to man, laid out in my country for all to see. With the most unkind, entitled man at the helm.

Who am I, right? Just another middle-aged white suburban woman. But I am sure what’s going on in my life is playing out in some of your lives.

Are the fault lines of uncertain friendships cracking wide? Have you lost relationships to this situation or to a disagreement over your country’s leadership and policies?

I had someone I consider a dear friend hang up on me a while back because after saying multiple times I did not want to discuss politics, he couldn’t let it go. And kept trying to show me the value of Donald Trump. And I’d finally had it. There’s politics and then there’s unconscionable inhumanity. We haven’t talked since. I hope the friendship remains but I will never excuse people not facing the fact that they voted for a candidate who has gone rogue and nasty in ways that are dangerous to the entire world.

I see vapid, overly blonde former college acquaintances extol his virtues on social media, from the vanilla confines of their gated communities. “Oh, look at what he’s doing. No one talks about the good he is doing.” Riddle me this. Does lowering the price of insulin while attacking your own citizens and filling the airwaves with hateful rhetoric net out as “good”? Not in my universe.

Politics used to be written off as a difference of opinion. But hate versus non-hate is not a difference of opinion—it’s the difference between living in a world we can all enjoy and a dystopian society.

I could only watch less than a minute of the George Floyd video. It didn’t take more than that for me to “get it.” And I felt sick to my stomach. I’m sure you did too.

And yet. I talk to a family member who, while saying how wrong George Floyd’s murder was, wonders aloud why the riots are “all over the country when it happened in Minneapolis.” Oy. Really?

I continue to search for my own blind spots. I’m not finding any. Maybe that’s why we call them blind spots. I love my great niece and nephews of mixed race the same as I do my white ones. And I don’t put them into those categories in normal, everyday life. I think of them instead in terms of their personalities and interests. The one who is a basketball whiz. The feisty little girl who dances like the wind. The teensiest one with a great sense of humor. They’re all just—well, kids. Finding their way.

I married a man of a completely different ethnicity than mine. He was no more or less human than my little white self. But he did get pulled out of just about every airport security line after 9/11 because they couldn’t tell if he was Hispanic, Italian, Middle Eastern. And our last name rarely got us the best table at a nice restaurant. If I was the one telling the hostess what that last name was, I got a look. And then usually, “Wow. You don’t look Hispanic.” To which I would reply, “And tell me. What is ‘a Hispanic’ supposed to look like?” (That comment never got us the best table either.)  My ex father-in-law is a light-haired, blue-eyed Cuban. I have one son who gets quite dark in the summer and one who is pasty white. One more likely to be looked askance at, more likely to be pulled over if out past curfew. Can you guess which one?

These are small things. My family does not have to go through what many black families do every day. But these small things made me more aware of the subtle forms of judgment in our society. It’s not all police brutality. Sometimes it’s who gets invited and who does not. Sometimes it’s the tight lips of a parent whose daughter is asked to prom by someone who looks very different. And the fact that those prom pictures aren’t proudly displayed on social media.

I’m not here to preach. I’m just saying I keep looking for ways that I might be contributing to the problem, versus helping to solve it.

There are good police officers and bad ones. Good people of all races and bad ones. We are not absolutes and we need to stop looking for that safe, easy harbor.

From where I sit, this is a time to speak out thoughtfully. To listen carefully. And to stop excusing those we know and love for inhumane thoughts or behaviors. That may mean some relationships don’t survive the fallout. But generally, those not strong enough to withstand honest disagreement weren’t worthy of your precious time anyway.

I guess I’m going to live on into that answer . . .

 

 

 

 

 

59 Comments Add yours

  1. “I have been silent lately. I don’t want to add to the cacophony of voices. And yet, I feel things so deeply. I am beyond saddened at man’s inhumanity to man, laid out in my country for all to see. With the most unkind, entitled man at the helm.” Oh yeah, well said…I got here via Pat’s blog…am now following. Thank you for such well thought out content yet filled with the power of your personal passion.

    1. candidkay says:

      Well thank you to Pat and to you! We are happy to have you here. I have some really dynamite followers with some really dynamite thoughts. And the kindness flows like a river.

  2. A powerfully stated piece Kay, I often wander along with same trails of bewilderment, questioning whether I’ve lost faith in humanity or if it has lost faith in me.

    My greatest fear is if we are reaching a point of no return.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope we are reaching that point–in terms of we can’t go back to what was. It wasn’t working. Rebuilding, even if messy, at least allows room for the light to creep in . . .

  3. modestly says:

    it is such an uncomfortable time – and a dangerous one I think – trouble in many countries – the hope has to be that we can steer ourselves through living in a culture where we have to rethink how we are getting our information , and teach ourselves and others to think more critically – good wishes to you Kay –

    1. candidkay says:

      I believe we’re in the middle of a far larger shift. Not just how we think, but who we are and what we value. I believe there are enough of us who are striving for good, that we’ll win over hate.

  4. Librarylady says:

    I loved this post. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. I liked what you said about your mixed races kiddos. That’s the solution to all of this. When all the races are mixed to the point where you can’t tell who’s what anymore , then maybe we’ll quit labeling.
    As for our fearless leader – sigh, don’t even get me started.
    Have a great day. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for your kind words. My kids aren’t actually considered mixed race. They’re mixed ethnicity. I am still trying to figure out what the heck that means. Being Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. But you could be Hispanic and also black. Because black is a race. Make sense? I don’t know if in the end the nomenclature matters, but it really seems to to some people so I am trying to stick to it. And I agree with you. No more talk of you know who. It just adds fuel to the fire. We just have to make it through to November! Thank you for your kind comments and I hope you are staying well.

  5. Canuck Carl says:

    This is an extremely well articulated post written from the heart. Incredible that even a last name can be prejudiced. My daughter is marrying a gentleman of a completely different ethnicity. He is such wonderful man who treats her with such genuine love and respect. Thank you for sharing. 🙏

    1. candidkay says:

      I think that’s how the world will change, Carl. People will fall in love, regardless of ethnicity or skin color. You fall in love with a person, with a soul. The rest falls by the wayside . . . congrats on her upcoming marriage!

  6. fritzdenis says:

    My brother voted for Trump and supports him on some levels. We decided (an unspoken agreement) to avoid talking about politics years ago. He’s immersed in “alternative facts”, so discussing any issue with him requires wading through references to murky conspiracy theories. He recently tried to head to the middle by claiming that mail-in ballots have led to voter fraud perpetuated by both parties. I pointed out that the military, older people, and folks with health issues (including my wife) have been voting by mail for decades. I asked him to look into fraud associated with overseas voting by the military. He didn’t touch that. I didn’t push the argument further. I know from experience that we were heading toward another stand off.

    1. candidkay says:

      In an interview with David letterman, Obama talked about how depending on what news channel or outlet you watch or read, you were living in a different world than your neighbor. And it’s never been so true. And when we come from such different bases of information, it’s insane to try to have a logical conversation. I wish it were otherwise right now.

  7. Very thoughtful post Kristine… it seems we are witnessing the end of another era❤️ Everything is coming up for people to digest and choose how they’re going to move forward in a new and loving way. It’s hard for some to not follow and get into trouble… so many violent gatherings all over Europe now too. AND we, me and you look at ourselves and own the part of us that has been racist, after all it’s intertwined in our history, and allow ourselves to smile and observe… choosing quite deliberately who we walk forward with. It’s something you feel❤️ much love Barbara x

    1. candidkay says:

      The choosing deliberately is oh so right. A good friend put it well when he said more people are having to make friendship decisions based on values that they’ve never really had to question before.

  8. RuthsArc says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful post, particularly …. “I’m just saying I keep looking for ways that I might be contributing to the problem, versus helping to solve it.” Hopefully many of us at looking at our “white privilege” with new eye, working to educate ourselves and listening carefully and with compassion and honesty.

    1. candidkay says:

      I do believe a lot of us aiming for that “new eye.” And that gives me hope. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

  9. da-AL says:

    well done — I have no patience especially for family members who are fools…

    1. candidkay says:

      I think a lot of us have run out of patience. You’re in good company.

  10. mydangblog says:

    As always, you are the voice of reason and eloquence. I wish your president was as thoughtful as you are about these issues.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. I’ve given up on even the possibility of wise thought from that man . . .

  11. A thoughtful, compassionate post Kristine that expresses some wise thoughts in a way that, surely, anyone could relate to.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Andrea. Odd how even thoughts calmly expressed right now can be a lightning rod. Tensions high here but I’m trying to focus on the good.

  12. markbialczak says:

    In my bowling league, Kay, I too often had to sit between shots and first squirm and then fume as some members of certain other teams praised our elected leader’s rage, bluster, hate and combination of ignorance and disdain for my beloved First Amendment. It wasn’t worth the argument, I figured, but I also wondered if they saw or cared about our fellow league members of color participating just lanes away and certainly within earshot of their echoed vitriol. So now I have to think if I was part of the problem for not explaining my piece (and peace) then and there.
    Yes, this is time to take inventory of how we’re part of life in all ways.
    Be safe and be well.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Mark. That must’ve been really hard and I know so many people who have been in similar situations and struggled with what to do. I think a lot of us have realized that now is the time not to start loud arguments end but calmly and firmly say, “This is not acceptable.” I do not believe that this is who the majority of Americans are. I admire that you are taking the time to do a self check.

  13. Thoughtful indeed. I’m finding my patience and ability to remain understanding of those I know who support Trump, is quickly sliding toward zero. As you said, “There’s politics and then there’s unconscionable inhumanity.”

    My very sensitive son reached melt-down yesterday, and as I encouraged him to vent, I was proud of his values and how he was able to articulate how what’s been going on in the world was getting to him. He was upset because of racism and because of police killing black people, and becasue of peaceful protests that have become riots, and was even more upset because in the middle of a pandemic people were acting stupid (rioting, not wearing PPE). In his mind, pandemic trumps racism because the virus kills anyone regardless of color. Plus he’s been concerned about a friend (a girl) who has befriended a man through online gaming, who’s twelve years her senior. My son’s big brotherly concern for her is melting my heart. (He wanted me to tell her mother, my close friend, about this guy and I did. Mom isn’t concerned).

    I wish that Trump understood that just like with my son, people who are upset need to be seen, heard, and validated. But he doesn’t, as a narcissist doesn’t.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ok, so many good things to comment on in your comment but the one that sticks out is – mom isn’t worried?! Oh geez. It sounds like she might have some reasons to worry. It sounds like you continue to raise a boy who is true to his heart and better yet –can communicate what’s on it. That is something so many adults can’t yet do.

      1. Let me share more details about my Little Man’s friend. She’s the same age as him, 17, but has developmental delays. She looks at callings someone a boyfriend about the way a 12 year old would, with zero sexual interest – kissing is still gross. And the guy lives in Ohio to our Pacific Northwest. She’s terrified to learn to drive and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t come out this way. At any rate, he’s on our radar.

  14. your post is moving and thoughtful. I don’t know what else to say really just that I stand with you in solidarity against racism. best wishes, A x

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Anne. I appreciate the kind words and I appreciate knowing how many people out there are against racism. It gives me hope that we will end up beating it eventually.

  15. Roy McCarthy says:

    Well said, thoughtfully said. I suppose I mainly wonder (from a distance) how so many Americans continue to support your President when he’s clearly been outed as a dangerous and morally bereft man. OK, anyone can make a mistake by voting for him on the basis of sweet promises but you’re allowed to change your mind when you see where’s it’s going horribly wrong. Sorry you’ve lost a friend over it.

    You’d hope that, in a perfect world, the best man/woman for the job would attain it, That’s hardly the case in the US, or indeed the UK where they have their own, only slightly less deranged, man in charge.

    On a lighter note, here in the Channel Islands both Jersey and Guernsey have their own governments. Recently a Guernsey politician called Jersey’s government ‘a bunch of bumbling idiots’. ‘Yes,’ we replied, ‘but they’re OUR idiots.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, a bit of levity in a crazy time. Thank you Roy:). I don’t even begin to presume I can tell you where the public stands. Early on, I thought for sure the tide would shift against him as he proved himself to be a really nasty, self-serving man. But I am amazed by how many people I see on social media–people I thought were far different than their views show them to be now–still support him. It’s baffling. And scary for many of in the U.S. come November. I truly hope people find their conscience instead of voting based on their traditional party.

  16. Kristine, you’ve laid out much of what I’ve been struggling with, and more besides. Trying to wrap my mind around everything that has happened lately has left me with emotional whiplash. My focus on writing has languished, not to mention the time I should be spending on other areas of my life. Mostly, my heart aches for all who have suffered, are suffering, and continue to suffer under the scourge of racism. As for Trump, I hope with every fiber of my being he is ousted in November.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Jennifer, I feel your pain. It’s hard to focus. Hard to do what would be “normal” for any given day when you really want to be part of a solution instead of in your own little world. I get it. I hope people vote their conscience, not their party, in November.

  17. Karen Lang says:

    Beautifully expressed! This is most definitely a time to look closely at what we were doing before and how that was keeping us small or hidden. Speak up and out when you need to, but I am finding that I just need a whole lot of listening and digesting right now. There’s so much to take in. And if we do it right. We will see the change in the future that we are all hoping for. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Listening. Yes! More of that, especially by white people, would go a long way.

  18. Thank you for a thoughtful post Kristine. I love your conclusions that we need to listen, speak out, and not allow the hurtful actions. And as others have pointed out, I mourn the loss of real conversation. Additionally, I believe we need more bridgebuilders and peacemakers to reach out, even to those we see as the enemy. From a spiritual perspective, I believe we are being asked to evolve and embrace everyone as family and extensions of ourselves. This is my leading-edge; easy to say and incredibly hard to do.

    1. candidkay says:

      I admire you for taking on a leading edge that you know is incredibly hard to do. And I believe you will succeed precisely because you admit that. Thank you so much for your thoughtful commentary.

      1. You’re most welcome. I hope I keep the intention/ commitment which has been a weak area for me.

  19. It will finally happen this change that has taken a long time coming Kristine…but first the fall, to break through the wall that has enclosed it for so long. Whether for you or any countries we live in.
    Yes, there will be very painful damage and loss but if there wasn’t, it too would just get swept under the carpet as usual.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree, Mark. It does feel like we have reached a watershed moment from which there is no going back. And since “back” wasn’t such a great place to be, I think that’s OK.

  20. Su Leslie says:

    I’ve also had friendships fracture over “politics”. There are family member around whom I am deeply uncomfortable lest the uneasy “we won’t talk about that” truce is broken when we simply can’t avoid one another. I’ve been told I’m too sensitive; a greenie, a hippy, a stuck-up intellectual — as though I should be hurt by those labels.

    But like you, I can’t/won’t stand by and ignore ingrained, systemic privilege and intolerance.

    Take comfort that you are not alone and keep thinking, challenging and speaking out.

    1. candidkay says:

      I see politics shaped by values or self-interest. And generally, when you’re getting called a hippie, etc., I’ve seen it be by people who value their own self interest more than anything. You and I are both tough as nails on many topics–caring about the greater good doesn’t make us sappy. It makes us human. Thanks for the encouragement! Sending you a fist bump at that next family gathering:).

      1. Su Leslie says:

        I agree; self-interest rules apparently.

        Have narrowly avoided a mine-field gathering this week so am feeling calmer and better able to focus on the stuff that matters.

  21. Thoughtful post, Kristine. The ability to discuss differing points of view is now a thing of the past. Disagreements are not voiced, and rational aspects of view have given way to ideology. In case you wonder, I’m talking about a society in general where all factions are to blame. There is no right or wrong side of an argument anymore. Even if there was neither party would concede. So yes, people take to the streets, and some of the more lawless destroy what is not theirs. I don’t know where all this will end, but the shortage of leadership in this country leads me to believe it won’t be in the right spot. Well done.

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes. The vacuum of leader ship right now is resulting in fanning the flames rather than calming things down so we can all start to sort this.

      1. So true. Trump’s idiocy is a given. Where is Biden and the governors?

  22. Dale says:

    Such a thoughtful post, Kristine.
    No one discusses anymore. There was a time where you could have a difference of opinion, share it, explain it, listen to the other, have a discussion. Doesn’t mean you change the other’s mind but maybe you each understand where the other is coming from You don’t have to hate the other for preferring strawberry over lime. Now? I don’t know what the hell is going on.
    I can understand why he was voted for in the sense of wanting something totally different… but once he started flapping his gums… how can anyone STILL believe he was a good choice?

    1. candidkay says:

      Exactly, Dale. While I have never liked him, I was willing to give him a chance to show himself to be a decent human being at the start. But it very quickly became apparent to me that he was anything but. I loved Obama. I voted for him. But had he quickly turned into a hatemonger, I would’ve denounced him. That’s the part I don’t understand about Trump supporters.

      1. Dale says:

        Right! But man, has he shown his true colours. And they ain’t pretty. I still don’t know why Obama is so loathed. We loved him up here in Canada!
        I don’t understand the blind faith his supporters (that he gives little to no sh*ts about, by the way) have in him

  23. An honest and thoughtful post, K. It’s important to challenge ourselves and others who matter to us. It’s important to reach across the divide and see what we can do to end injustices, big and small. It’s important to care about one’s fellow-citizens. I am trying too.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Cynthia. I guess it’s all any of us can do. Use our voices and our actions to create the world that could be rather than what we are inhabiting at the moment.

  24. suemclaren24 says:

    I am right there with you. Many commonalities, from marrying outside the clan, through having to drop a long time friendship because we cannot talk to each other about current politics, and I am unable to see his point of view. I have tried. I have done a lot of reading. I am skilled at seeing both sides. But there are times when you simply have to shore up your boundaries and stand your ground about what is right and what is not. Americans are, as in many other cultures, good people. Entropy/chaos are necessary to create significant change, and it can be painful. We are struggling in the middle of this transition, and we will survive it.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s an ugly analogy, but I said to a friend the other night that what is happening is like opening up a festering wound. The wound would continue to fester if you never touched it and you’d likely die from it. Opening it up is painful and ugly. But at least then we have the chance to heal.

  25. Jane Fritz says:

    OMG, Kay, I can’t even begin to imagine what I would say to a friend who said those reassuring things about Donald Trump. I do know that I’d be speaking to them for the last time. Wow. I just don’t get it. Such hatred. Or is it stupidity? As you say, man’s inhumanity to man knows no bound. And it’s so often an ardent church goer. 😥

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes, the mystery in how people can reconcile being a follower of Jesus Christ and yet allowing what’s happening–and voting for the man who is filled with hateful rhetoric. That’s the kind of dichotomy I guess I’ve just lost patience with.

      1. Jane Fritz says:

        That is a sad mystery indeed. Very sadly, hypocrisy is alive and well in some/many churchgoers, and, in their defense, most don’t know it.

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