There was a time. Years ago. When my world burned to the ground, and left me with nothing but ashes, and bare dirt. There was a time I spoke the words, “To those who are concerned.” I will not debate grammar rules, and whether this should have been “whom” and not “who”.
I will, however, repeat what I said then. This is for those who are concerned.
I have tried to explain. I have tried to find the words. I have expended all my strength. All my energy. All my courage. Endurance. Patience. All of it. Trying to explain that which I see. I have said (check my status history on Facebook, if you doubt this) countless times there is no right or wrong, no left or right, no good or evil, no just or unjust, no us or them, no ethical or unethical, no moral or immoral.
I stand by that.
And I stand, as I have always stood. By myself. Misunderstood. And treated as guilty. Because.
I am white.
I am male.
And I will no longer listen when you say to me, “It’s ALL men!”
I will no longer listen when you say to me, “ALL white people are racists!”
I will no longer listen when you pronounce, “Of course you don’t care! You’re a White Man! You can afford NOT to care!”
I would say, instead, the following.
Before my 40th birthday, in 1993, yes, 24 years ago. Before my 40th birthday, my primary care physician said these words to me. They are burned into my brain cells forever. I can never be free of them.
“On those mornings you wake up, and you ache. You know those mornings. I know you understand what I’m saying. On those mornings you wake up, and you ache. Take your naproxen.”
I was 34 years old. 34.
And this morning, I woke up. Not because I was rested. Not because I’d had enough sleep. Not because I felt wide awake. I woke up because.
Some invisible man with a crowbar was shoving that crowbar under my right collar bone, and trying to pry it out of my body.
Some invisible man with a baseball bat was pounding on my right hip.
Some invisible man with a nail gun was hammering nails into my right ankle.
Some invisible man with a wrench had clamped that sucker down on the right ligaments of my left knee, and was twisting that bitch for all he was worth.
I woke up because.
I fucking hurt.
And yes. I fucking took my naproxen.
There are more words to say. Many more.
I remember my days at Old Dominion University, from August of 1977 through May of 1982. I remember more than once, screaming at the gods, at the universe, how it could allow someone as priceless as her, my friend, to be hurt in that way.
I used to do as she asked, you know. I walked with her. All over the place. Countless places I had no interest in going. Places I went, and did nothing. Why? Because. It helped her feel safe. Period. Seeing all six feet two inches of me, next to her, seeing the physical presence that is me, next to tiny, delicate, fragile her.
Guys left her alone. She told me that. “I said goodbye to you, while I stood you in the doorway to the class. And since that day, the guy that was harassing me, bothering me, wouldn’t leave me alone. He’s left me alone, and never bothered me since.”
Don’t tell me I don’t understand!
1984, in the halls of Dam Neck US Naval Base. When I stepped between my friend Denise. And the chaos that was a male sailor, who’d failed an exam yet again, and was lashing out, and being chased by the Military Police. And was physically resisting. When I placed her behind me, without hesitation. To keep her safe. To protect her.
Don’t tell me I don’t understand!
I understand so very well. I know what happened in 1996 through 2001, when I took Aikido classes, three times a week. I know what happened in those classes, every time a new behemoth male showed up to study. Either as a visitor from another dojo, or as a new regular at ours. I remember how I was endlessly singled out to partner with those individuals. Because.
I’m six feet two inches tall. And everyone in my Aikido class knew, including the instructor. I was tough as nails. And those behemoths were not a significant threat to me. It kept others safe. It reduced the risk of injury to them. It reduced the amount of pain they felt.
Don’t tell me I don’t understand!
I can speak countless stories from my 58 years of life. Am I perfect? No. Have I made mistakes? Yes. Do I have regrets? Yes.
And I will no longer accept blame for not being able to stop the independent actions of others. Do you get that? I will no longer nod my head, and say, “We must all stand up to the worst of ourselves, and stop them.”
I have learned, you see. I can change another, change another’s beliefs, another’s learned behavior, another’s sacred religious faith, another’s response to this world. Every bit as much as I can change lead into gold. Every bit as much as I can bring my four dead cats that I miss dearly back to life, and spend time with them. Every bit as much as I can tell the heavens, “There’s a drought in Phoenix! They haven’t had rain in 90 days! Make it rain there!” And have the heavens listen to me.
I cannot change another human being. All I can do is lead by my example. And pray, and wish, and hope, that other human being learns.
Monday, 12 December 2017, I logged out of my Facebook and twitter accounts. Because. Because of everything I just said above. Because. In the eyes of social media, I’m a guilty, privileged, racist, sexist, misogynistic white man. And I’m hell bent on defending the status quo, and keeping all my privileges.
You want to know why I shut down? Why I walked away.
I just told you.
If my reward for caring. My reward for changing myself, and for talking of those changes with others. My reward for defending women from men. My reward for supporting the rights of non-white people. My reward for standing for the rights, and freedoms, and even recognition of the right to exist, for people of non-binary gender. Is to be called, relentlessly, a privileged, racist, sexist, bigoted, hate filled white male, who can’t understand, and deserves to have every last shred of his existence taken from him, and should be placed in a prison camp, and made to work until he falls over dead from exhaustion, and gets raped endlessly by other, bigger male prisoners. If that is my reward for supporting others.
Then I will no longer support them.
And I will no longer care what they have to say.
And I will continue with my life. As best I can. As best I can learn how. Using what limited skills, and talents, and intelligence the universe granted me in this world.
To those who are concerned.
I’m done accepting the blame for the things I have not done.
And now, I’ve silenced you. I can no longer hear your words. You may scream at me all you wish. But so long as I do not exist in your world. I won’t know. And I will be free from your judgment of me.
And to those who can’t understand what I’ve just said. And how I can be so angry. Now you know. Now you know where all the angry white men have come from.
You made us.