You cannot ask to join something older, larger, and farther reaching than yourself, and then declare it is solely yours by demanding it be taken away from someone else. You cannot demand that something that has shaped entire arcs of history conform to your view and change into something it is not, cannot be, nor has ever been. Imperfect action is better than perfect procrastination, and positive change mostly comes very slowly, through incremental changes, one inch at a time.
It is not wrong that your demands have not been met, that your opinions have not been agreed with, that your views have not been endorsed, that your perspective has not been accepted. You have the right to earn a place; you do not have the right to be put upon a pedestal. You have the right to speak; you do not have the right to have your voice heard. You have the right to prove yourself correct; you do not have the right to unearned legitimacy. Those things must be won in good faith, not cajoled through bribery or demanded by force.
Those of us who have not engaged in hate, bigotry and violence are not responsible for the hate, bigotry and violence. You cannot continue to redefine the nature of the offense or slight which wounded you in order to hold us accountable. Those of us who bear no responsibility for creating the circumstances in which you find yourself are not responsible for your suffering. We are not at fault for holding to beliefs we find true, to faiths we find sustaining, to histories that form our foundation.
You claim to desire a commitment to free expression, communication of thoughts and views, and an open exchange of ideas free from intimidation. But when presented by conflicting ideas, when confronted with contrary views, you respond with hatred, with anger, with violence, with the silencing of the other you see as opposition.
You claim to have no choice but to destroy all for which we stand in order to build something that will be more acceptable to you. You claim mistreatment, insult, disrespect is sufficient grounds for you to upend and destroy all that has gone before, to bury a past rich with history and wisdom. You claim it on the grounds of fairness.
You claim the status of the wronged, the victimized, the forsaken. You hold yourselves up as martyrs for a cause that embraces only itself. In many ways, you place yourselves above humanity, when all have endured the struggle of being human.
Yes, these things and more have happened. They are undeniable facts. But in the end, you just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You are no better than all the other cruel would-be tyrants who came before; a never-ending cycle of fear, anger and hate unleashing ever more fear anger and hatred, consuming anyone in its path, like an endless war.
Part of the problem is you’ve yet to consider what the outcome will be. If you attain all your goals, if you accomplish all that you’ve set out to achieve, what will emerge? Will neighbors report each other to the state? Will you have agents of the government marching house to house to carry out the decree from on high? What about those whose faith, background, culture and identity are different from yours? What happens to them? Will you allow them to form families, to live unmolested, run a business, and follow their conscience?
The other part of the problem is that you don’t actually know what will happen. You don’t know the consequences – short-term or long-term – of everything you’ve proposed and demanded. When you’ve attained your goals, when all is as you hoped it would be, when it is all perfect and just and fair, what will you do with those who – just like you, once – objected to not only the status quo, but the history that paints an unflattering picture of reality? What will you do when your progeny comes to depose you? At what point will the transformation end?
Your confidence in ultimate victory and your certainty of vindication in being on the “right side” of history may soothe your spirit now, and assuages your conscience; but for how long? What will you do when history marches on, leaving you behind? Where will you draw your line in the sand?