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Time to have a seat, get a beverage, and take a breath. We are all dealing with so many different things right now and tensions are high for a lot of us. So let’s just take a minute, calm ourselves down and try to work through this together. Can we talk? Not yell, not argue and certainly, let’s not come to blows, just have a conversation.
Let’s start with what I am referring to as “The Great Mask Debate”. Seriously, why is this even an issue? Yes, it is your right not to wear one, no one is disputing that. There is a difference however; between your right and your responsibility as a citizen of the world. Folks, pretty much every healthcare professional says that we should wear them unless we have a pre-existing medical condition that prohibits it or we are under the age of 2 years old. It is not meant to protect YOU, it’s meant to protect those around you. Consider the fact that you may be in the proximity of someone who is already immunocompromised or already had respiratory issues and if that doesn’t work for you, then think of how you’d want those around you to act if it were you or someone you love in that situation. Do the right thing. If you’re going out, wear the mask. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it can help so many. A smoker can’t smoke inside most buildings because of the dangers to the health of others, this is really no different. It’s for the greater good. I can’t believe that we have people getting in fist fights, pulling guns and throwing tantrums over this. Ridiculous. Be a good human and think of someone else. Personally, I find them really uncomfortable for extended periods of time in the Florida heat, so rather than throw a fit about it, I pretty much just stay home and I don’t have to worry about it. I’m not about to waste my time, energy or oxygen on people who take their advice from someone who doesn’t understand how this works.
Systemic racism. Yep, I’m going there. It exists. Whether or not you have experienced it doesn’t change that fact. It’s existed for too long. Whether or not you agree with that doesn’t change that fact either. We’ve had this issue brought to the forefront over and over again and we haven’t fixed it yet. We’ve taken steps, but we haven’t made nearly the strides that are necessary to make the changes we should’ve by now. If you haven’t experienced it, I encourage you to have a conversation with someone who has had to explain to their child why life is different for them than it is for others. If you’re ignoring it, denying it or not taking the initiative to try to learn about it, you’re part of the problem. No one should ever have to worry about where they go or how to “go about their business without raising suspicion” in this land of the free where we say we have liberty and justice for all. They don’t need to change, we do.
While I’m on this topic, let’s talk about diversity in general. This country was founded by people from all walks of life. Different people from different backgrounds have contributed to every single advancement of society. Why do we deny that? Why don’t we celebrate the things that make us different while looking for our common ground? We fear what we don’t know. But if we don’t learn, we live in fear in perpetuity, so this will never end. As the saying goes, there is so much more that unites us than divides us. We’re all humans, our bodies work pretty much the same way, we have the same feelings, dreams, etc. the rest is no one else’s business. You need to know my story to know me – and although I hope you don’t judge me either way, I know you will because it’s human nature. The fact remains that I am who I am and you are who you are. Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you.
It’s okay to change your opinion of things. Maybe you were raised with parents who believed one thing because they had limited exposure to people who weren’t like them. In this age of cellphone video, body cams and practically limitless information (and I know, not all of it is true), you have no excuse for not learning something new each day about the world in which you live. Ask questions, learn about the people you work with, share a community with, heck – even people in your own family who are different from you. Trust me, they’ll be happy to discuss anything that helps you understand them. You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to participate in behaviors or activities that make you uncomfortable, but you do have to treat them as you want them to treat you. We can’t keep tearing each other down, turning our backs, closing our eyes and assuming our way is the right and only way. There are 7 different ways to navigate to where I work, but that doesn’t make the route I take the only right way to get there.
Of course, all of this is my opinion and I welcome discussion on any topic you wish to discuss, as long you discuss it with me, not just tell me you think I’m wrong. I once heard a man being interviewed on TV say, “A conversation means you are willing to have your mind changed, otherwise it’s just an argument.” I am sorry to say I don’t know his name and I’m not sure if he was the first person to say this or if he was quoting someone else, but I believe that he nailed it. So, can we talk?
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