Transitioning from software company owner/Software developer to political activist blogger/radio show host was much more fearful for me than the standing battles to defeat a destructive form of conservatism that is destroying our country socially, morally, and financially. Developing software was difficult but deterministic. Activating folks to fight for what is our's is more complicated and devoid of any absolute path.
I received two emails yesterday that touched me. The emails I get and the interaction I get on the radio, whether folks agree or not, prove the point that the vast majority of people are good people. Most importantly they want to do good and mitigate those that harm. Most of the times we are paralyzed by our fear to act or go out on a limb because we think we are alone.
The first email was from a white police officer who was concerned about the Trump effect on his fellow cops. I wrote a blog post on it and posted it here. The second email follows.
Today, I read the letter sent to you by an anonymous concerned police officer. I think he is correct that brutality will go from normalized to legitimized and expected. Like your listener, I am also very white, and so are my children, so my immediate family is not in the 'cone of threat'. I am not a police officer, but I have a cushy job and haven't had a hungry day in 23 years. I too was just hoping to raise my children and retire one day.
But I know a lot of people who are not so lucky, including my mixed-race nieces, my foreign-born co-workers, and the large hispanic congregation in my parish. And while I had planned to teach my sons tolerance, honesty, and acceptance as values, I feel like in the last two weeks, America has rejected those values in favor of... whatever is going on now. We may be facing a whole generation that will have to un-learn racism and sexism as adults, if ever.
And even if we're not beaten with sticks, what kind of a world am I giving my sons, if the public says the only feeling they are allowed to have, is weaponized spite, and the only solution to international problems is to build walls and dig more coal while the world drowns or starves.
Like your listener, I also don't think that donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are going to be enough to get us through the next four (eight? sixteen? who knows?) years. I haven't figured out what to do, yet. But I really hope that there is something. Writing letters feels like a weak way to begin. The Right has proven that they don't give a shit what I think. Nobody is going to read them who doesn't already agree with me.
I imagine that your listener must feel the same way. So just please tell him, he is not alone. Please ask him, where he can, to share with his brother officers. Teach restraint. Teach de-escalation. As an older guy, he knows the lessons of history. A few words in private between individuals may keep his department from going over the edge.
Don't give up.
[Name withheld for privacy]
I responded to him as follows.
First please let me tell you that your letter means a lot. Second, writing is not a weak way to begin. Communication is the first step in activating. People of good hearts and spirits need to know that there are more good people than bad and indoctrinated people out there. They just need to know they are not alone. There is strength in numbers. With your permission, I will reprint your letter respecting your privacy by removing the name and email.
We all read newspapers, blogs, and news sites. We watch videos and send messages on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Remember these platforms all add a degree of information democratization. Write a letter-to-the-editor to a newspaper with your point of view. Make comments, write a post, post a video on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, blogs, etc. with your point of view. Disregard offensive trolls and engage those willing to have a civil conversation. Remember, most people seeing your words or videos are not commenting, but they are consuming what you are offering. If we flood the internet and elsewhere with our positive affirmations, we lay the foundation for a change. We do not all have to be on the streets for a change. Some of us will. But all of us can engage to help make this a better country, a better world.
Also published on Medium.