The first time I employed the courage of my convictions I was in 6th grade. It involved a bathroom pass and a bad case of the shits. My teacher at the time, who shall remain nameless, refused to allow me the use of said bathroom pass. Even though I followed the proper procedure – i.e. raised my hand, waited to be called on, asked politely, made sure we weren’t in the midst of a new lesson – she for some reason decided to say no. Now, maybe this was merely my sense of self preservation taking over. I mean, middle-school is a figurative shit show of awful, no need to make it a literal one as well. My last name starts with Wiz. I was already nicknamed “Cheese Wiz” and I REALLY did not want “poopie pants” or any derivative thereof, added to that. So yeah, it could have been self preservation, or maybe it was because I knew in my heart that the RIGHT thing to do, would be for her to allow me the use of the pass. Either way, I marched myself out of that classroom and straight to the bathroom. And I do mean STRAIGHT to the bathroom.
As the chorus of, “Whoas” faded with the closing classroom door I felt simultaneously triumphant and terrified. Triumphant because I knew I had stood up for myself, and also that I wasn’t going to crap my pants. Terrified because there were certain things I had been taught to always respect. Two of which were teachers and authority. When my mother later came to the school to rip my teacher, and not me, a new asshole I realized that the most important item on my list of things to respect, was my own sense of right and wrong. My convictions. That if something is inherently wrong, such as making a 12 year old publicly shit her pants for no apparent reason, it doesn’t matter where the idea or order comes from. It’s wrong, regardless.
Fast forward about 20 years and we find ourselves here. Where the President of the United States believes these are, “Some very fine people”.
Where we are faced with the situation that those in power are attempting to tear apart the fabric of morality and restitch it to fit their agendas. I’m assuming the end result will look something like this…
They’ve managed to twist right and wrong – fact and fiction – into some sort of coagulated, nacho cheese based casserole. (Because apparently artificial cheese products just weren’t quite done torturing me). And instead of sprinkling the top with delicious french fried onions, the recipe calls for a gas-lighting crust. It’s the dish only your racist uncle looks forward to at family picnics.
We could discuss how factually inaccurate the positions of the Trump Administration are. I could post link after link, refuting every policy position they have. And yes, their ability to so blatantly disregard the truth is amazing, but it’s not their super villain power. Because although it SEEMS like some humans are immune to facts right now, I promise you they are not. This is evidenced by the number of people who have blocked me after I have posted irrefutable sources on social media. They may not want to hear the truth, but their reaction to it would not be so visceral and full of contempt if somewhere, deep down inside they didn’t already know that they were factually wrong.
No, the true power of this Administration is their ability to convince people that morally unambiguous stances now have nuance. That among Nazis and white supremacists are some “very fine people”. That “grab them by the pussy” is socially appropriate. That cheating on your pregnant wife is okay. That mocking disabled people is somehow justifiable. And because these are moral issues, being the good, elitist liberals that we are we can’t just post a source, wait for them to read it and then chuckle when their heads explode. Instead we find ourselves staring agape at our compatriots as they explain that adultery is okay now. I mean, if a Yeti walked into my apartment, bitch slapped me, curled up on my couch and then asked my boyfriend to pass the remote, I LITERALLY could not be more shocked than I have been at Trump and his supporters’ willingness to skew moral truths. The only thing that would be harder to grasp, is if my boyfriend actually handed over the remote.
So we stumble through this intense fog of “What the Fuckery”, stubbing our toes on racism justifications, banging our knees on rape apologists and wondering where the fucking Yeti came from. The only light available in the muck known as MAGA is the thin beam of a laser pointer, which maybe we can get the Yeti to chase outside if we’re lucky. That laser pointer is our convictions; its beam definitely dimmed and refracted as it fights its way through the coagulated layer of corned beef grease Trump coats everything with, but still shining none the less. And now it’s up to us to have the courage to follow it.
And following that light can be scary. For some, it can literally threaten their physical well-being. For others, you risk losing relationships. Being ousted from your social group. Alienating your co-workers. Pissing off your boss. Losing your job. “Go along to get along” is a popular philosophy, because it is inherently unthreatening.
Having the courage of your convictions is much harder. It makes you weary and tired, down into your bones. It’s exhausting to constantly reinforce the things you know to be true. That racism is wrong. That homophobia is not okay. That immigrants aren’t rapists. That women are autonomous. That leadership and goodness are defined by everything Trump is NOT. That’s a fact. Webster’s Dictionary lists leadership as…
This can be especially burdensome when you realize it’s 2018. This shit should just be a given by now. We shouldn’t still be debating this. Americans should be flying around like the Jetsons, not arguing whether the Flintstones had it right. And it would be really easy, particularly for white people, to give up. To just ride out this roller coaster of crazy until they finally let us off, barf our brains out and then go back to business as usual. However, no one ever won an award for being apathetic. The words, “They stormed the beach with great apathy” have never been spoken. Unless we find the courage and energy to continue to scream these moral truths into the faces of those who wish to deny them, we won’t have a “business as usual” to return to. We’ll be the 6th grade girl, shitting her pants in the classroom, because she’s too afraid and/or tired to ruffle any feathers.
There are a lot of shades of gray in the world. I’m personally partial to porpoise. But aside from that, delightful to read aloud, statement there are issues like assisted suicide, capital punishment, whether Don Draper was a good dude or a bad one. Moral ambiguities that rational people can debate the rights and wrongs of. However, there are also certain things that are black or white. Letting a 6th grader poop her pants for no good reason. That’s black. Racism. Misogyny. Homophobia. Xenophobia. Islamophobia. Anti-Semitism. Sexism. It’s a safe bet that if a word ends in “ism” or “phobia”, you’re wrong to be justifying it. And during this INSANE moment in history, when people are working harder than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest to normalize hate and bigotry it is imperative that we follow that laser pointer. That the courage of our convictions leads us down a path to sanity. That we all grab that bathroom pass and walk the hell out, before America shits all over thousands of years of progress.