I’ve been trying to decide what to write about today, but I’m going to level with you–I’m exhausted. Between everything going on with the government (or lack thereof, consider the shutdown), those shitty “build the wall” kids at the Indigenous Peoples March, men freaking out over a razor commercial that asks them to not be terrible people, and all the fighting I’ve been witness to on my personal social media accounts lately–it’s a lot. I recognize the amount of privilege that I have to be able to take a breather from all of this, to just sign out of Facebook or shut off the TV and have everything go away for a minute, but I feel like I need to resuscitate my brain so I can continue to stand up for women as a feminist and to stand up for others with experiences I can’t even begin to fully understand as a human being.
Life is hard enough without all of us making it harder on each other. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t call each other out on our bullshit–we absolutely should. That’s part of what I appreciated about the Gillette commercial. If the people around you are being shitty and making the world worse for others, CALL THEM OUT ON IT. I’m tired of letting people get away with terrible behavior because of weak excuses like “that’s the way they were raised” or “they didn’t know any better.” Choosing to continue to live in ignorance doesn’t excuse bad behavior.
When I was in college, I read Until the Final Hour: A Firsthand Account of Life with Hitler by Traudl Junge, Hitler’s secretary. Throughout the book, she continually chooses to be ignorant of what Hitler and the Third Reich are doing. That sounds unbelievable, considering how close she was to the eye of the hurricane, but she chose ignorance about a lot of things. One of the most illuminating parts of the book for me was at the end, when she was reflecting on her role in Hitler’s regime and the Holocaust and in the aftermath, she tried to justify it by saying that she was too young, she couldn’t have made a difference. She was only one person. But then one day, Traudl Junge sees a memorial statue to a woman who was part of the resistance against Hitler and had dedicated her short life to opposing him and the horrors he perpetrated. Junge then realizes that she and this woman were the same age and Junge finally confronts the fact that she could’ve done something, but she chose not to.
You are never the wrong age to be the change you want to see in the world. Sometimes that change is standing up for yourself and your life on a national scale like the incredibly brave Parkland students who survived the shooting at their school last year. Sometimes that change is calling out a friend who makes a misogynistic joke that perpetuates rape culture. Either way, we have a responsibility to do better and be better.
What am I going to do? Right now, I’m going to go hug my kid, take a deep breath, and eat some dinner. Tomorrow, I’m going to get back out there and keep standing up for what’s right. There is a lot of good in the world, but it’s not enough to just look for the helpers like in that famous Mister Rogers quote–we need to be the helpers. Get out there and do the right thing. It’s not okay for people to be treated as less than human.