I know, I continually shock people because I sometimes come back to blog on this. Usually, it’s just to give you thoughts that are too long for my Facebook. So, today, I’m talking about something that really has been on my mind a lot since everything happened in Charlottesville a week and a half ago.
I wrote this on Facebook on August 14th, and it’s where I’m going to start my post today.
“I am a pacifist. This means that I am for non-violence. It does NOT mean that I will not defend, however. I will use force, and my body, to protect others if necessary. And when I saw the violence in Charlottesville, my heart was broken. This is not how it was meant to be. The world was not created for violence. We have created it ourselves. In the past 48 hours, every thought and moment has been the chant “Lord have Mercy.” I pray for peace.
But, I hurt as well. It is hard to look at memes and to see and hear people say things that I am understanding as “if you are against us using violence to solve this, then get out of the way, you don’t belong here.” I have passion. If you hear me speak, you will hear passion for justice. You will hear me shout it from the mountains and tell people that what they are doing is WRONG. I am assertive, strong, and sometimes even angry.
And if I am ever in a situation where I have to protect others from physical violence, you better damn well believe that I will use force. It is then, and only then, that I believe that it is right for me to break my belief of pacifism. But, if I am against using violence unless absolutely necessary in defense, am I less progressive than I should be? Or, asking this way, do we really need to continue pushing progressives further apart so we can’t get a damn thing done?
Maybe I’m misunderstanding what people are saying and, if so, call me on it. Please. I want to discuss this sort of thing and understand. I AM progressive, and always will be. I just feel a little separated from my fellow allies right now.”
I did not get a single response to that post. I asked for discussion and got silence. Maybe it was because people didn’t know what to say, or maybe they didn’t realize how much I needed to hear that yes, I am still a progressive and an ally, even though I am a pacifist.
I still feel like this. Actually, in the 9 days since I’ve written this, I have felt even more pushed away. In short, it totally sucks. I keep seeing memes with all sorts of messages. This one stood out to me the most, and is the majority of what I have heard from other progressives.
“White Supremacists and Fascists have co-opted your liberalism. They’ve trained you to say things like… “violence is not the answer”… take a damn side.”
No, friends, I learned that from my faith, not Nazis. I believe in pacifism. I believe that Jesus lived a life of pacifism. Not passive-ism – he flipped tables and called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” for goodness’ sake – but pacifism. He was being dragged to be crucified – one of the most horrific forms of execution in history – and he told Peter, his best friend, to put down his sword and shut up.
In the First World War, the term “No Man’s Land” become popularized (even though it had been used in other contexts in between). This term was used to talk about the chunk of land that was between two trenches. Trench warfare was the main form of conflict during WWI, and that area was filled with poisons, landmines, and soldiers who had died while trying to cross the area. It was, in fact, the place where no man could cross safely, because they were likely to get mowed down by the enemy.
Why am I telling you this?
Because that is, for all intents and purposes, where I exist. My entire existence is here – in the no man’s land, where most people don’t dare to walk or live.
What do I mean? Well, in short, I’m talking about the fact that I seem to exist between two extremes.
I’m progressive, but I try to empathize with conservatives and moderates who I love and care about in order to help them see what I see.
I’m LGBT, and unapologetically so, but I am also Christian, and unapologetically so. This often gets me in interesting predicaments with both sides of the aisle – do we really need to have a “both sides” of the aisle with this?
I’m a democratic socialist that believes in personal responsibility and that, in some cases, people need to get themselves together. They need the safety net that socialism provides, but that doesn’t mean that you can be irresponsible and do dumb things because the safety net is there.
I’m a progressive and a Christian. While I know more people who fit in this mold lately, we are still a smaller part of the larger Church. But many times, both sides look at us skeptically because of who we are.
I’m an ally for all minorities – I stand against sexism, transphobia, racism, ethnocentrism, homophobia – but I’m a pacifist, so I guess I’m really not an ally according to some of those memes that have been slapping me in the face this week.
The only other post that I’ve written in the past year is this one that I wrote back in May, and so you can tell that this has been quite the theme in my life lately. It hurts to walk this path sometimes – no man’s land is a scary place, because many times, you have BOTH sides thinking that you’re part of the enemy, and you aren’t.
Maybe there are more people like me out there. Maybe I’m not alone in No-Man’s Land. Maybe I’m not so strange and I just feel that way because of all of the dialogue that is eating at me these past 10 days.
Just know this – just because I exist in No Man’s Land doesn’t mean that I haven’t taken a side. I have taken a side. I am a true blue, hardcore progressive that is working for all people to be equal and for there to be changes in our system so that people stop being shitted on again and again.
But, sometimes, I get caught in friendly fire because they think I am the enemy due to being who I am.