Truth is ugly. Truth is dangerous. Truth is complicated. Truth is nuanced and it is uncomfortable, disorienting, and terrifying. These emotions are what your body feels when it reads about the riots and violence happening across the country and the world. People like myself have the privilege of not understanding riots, and those words should make you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. However, do NOT dismiss the discomfort, and do NOT let it dictate truth. People have stood in complacency for hundreds of years because they were uncomfortable. The grotesque violence you read in history books were defended by people standing behind their discomfort, letting tradition and cognitive dissonance put them on the wrong side of history. Recognize this. If you’re uncomfortable by riots it’s because something inside of you recognizes that the position we are in is bad. Being creatures of habit, human beings do not naturally evaluate discomfort from all sides, our bodies are trained to avoid and abandon what makes us wrong and confused. For once in history, do NOT let comfort come before progress. Do NOT be the reason someone else’s racism (or homophobia, or anti-semitism, or sexism, or any other violation of humanity) feels justified. Search your mind and your body and your past and identify what is making you uncomfortable. Learn about your personal prejudice and your fear; do it objectively. Learn about where it came from and how it has shaped you and evaluate if that is the person you want to be. Do NOT dismiss millions of lived experiences because you feel scared to acknowledge the truth behind them. Do all these things before you share your opinions.
The United States was founded on the backs of people who disobeyed peace. None of this is new. You celebrate famous riots and violence (like the entire foundation of the Fourth of July) because you have been TAUGHT to think of them as necessary for progress. You stop celebrating current riots because you do not like the idea of violence. But you forget that your rights as a free person, or as a worker, or as a member of a religion, have come from violent riots. I am teaching you right now to recognize that there is a pattern in human history to defend prejudice. DO NOT be the reason that, in 100 years from now, this chapter of American history is so ugly. There have always been people that defended prejudice in an effort to stay comfortable. Be one of the people to put an end to it.
Let me reiterate: truth is ugly. Truth is dangerous. Truth is complicated. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something, and that applies to all political parties, ideologies, religions, and movements. You do not automatically have the truth because of your political party, your faith, or your socio-economic class, or any other title. Let yourself understand that truth is not straight forward, and those gut feelings and initial reactions do not mean truth. Come to terms with the idea that if you don’t already know this, you have been raised on a platform of privilege. Realizing your privilege is uncomfortable. lean into that discomfort. Again, LEARN FROM IT. Learn to be a good human being by learning how to evaluate your reality. Learn about the conflicts and riots that have birthed American and world politics. Learn about the people who fought on the other side of those riots. Then get back to me on your opinion about today’s news headlines—whatever they may be AFTER you have educated yourself and evaluated your reality. You are never done learning about truth.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Nietzsche said, “On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.”
Oscar Wilde said, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
Descartes said, “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
Faulkner said “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”
Kurt Cobain said, “The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.”
Howard Zinn said, “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”
Think about it before you talk about it.