I’ve been thinking a lot about why all the “cutting.”
The cutting each other down.
Why we spend our days fighting each other? Why we divide, instead of collide? Why we see only how we are different? When we are very much all the same. All just trying to LIVE and I mean that in every way that word commands. Health is the obvious one, but also, being able to pay our rent, participate in activities that bring us joy, have a meaningful life, etc.
And especially given our power of what we can do when we are a “we.”
But instead, we spend our days fighting. Fighting against your neighbor. Your ally.
We use our powers on silly things like quinoa pasta.
And then we begin fighting each other as we splinter, the “white pasta” movement.
We have made our ally (moms and dads raising children the best we can) our enemy. We do this through various vehicles of pain. It includes minor things such as gossip.
But in the bigger world, it comes in all forms from gossip to murder, even mass murder.
And this one memory keeps popping up in my head.
I apologize for sharing something so specific and I wish NO ONE harm by this post. But I believe this experience is a prime example of the splintering of humanity into fractions. So many “uses” and so many “theys.” Seeing the other as the “enemy,” when in the end we all want the same exacg thing.
And I can only speak to what I’ve experienced, my “known.”
My example revolves around Charlottesville; the demonstrations of hate, the senseless death of a young woman.
If you recall, Charlottesville happened right before the start of the school year. It was August. I was horrified as I know you were too. Horrified by the chants. Horrified by its message.
It answered some hard questions for me that I remember spending my teens trying to understand. I never understood how the Holocaust could happen. How there could be MILLIONS of bystanders?
And here were masses, marching. Marching down the streets in Charlottesville.
They had no hoods. They showed their faces. They stood united. United in fractions.
I use fractions purposely as they are such a SMALL fraction. They really are, but yet they unite and they like the biggest piece of the pie.
Ahhh. That’s how it happens, when you make allies. When you make numbers. When you feel validated by another. Even hate has power in numbers and can show its face.
And we were going into the school year with this cloud on humanity.
I wrote leadership immediately. Adamant that Avenues will address this moment in history. We should condemn these attacks. We are the WORLD school. I even forwarded other school’s emails to leadership. I volunteered to take the first stab at writing the letter. We were told no.
BUT BUT BUT. Before you get upset. I did 100% agree in the end on this decision. I agreed. I asked for the WHY and it was answered. There was reasoning. It was not arbitrary, but sound. The question back was when do we “stop” commenting. When do we “stop.” Should we comment when Trump talks about the home origins of many of our faculty as rapists? Should the school talk about Syria on a daily basis? If we start commenting, when do we finish? Is it really the school’s place to be the “position” in the world? And is this what we should be spending our time on? Should we be fighting the world or preparing our students to navigate and solve it?
All fair. I supported the decision.
But…before I understood/ accepted the why we had a faculty meeting of the bigger leadership (all heads of “departments” etc) and a faculty member got vocal and angry about us not publishing something. She said that by not publishing we were agreeing. Our silence was a message to our community, a quiet acceptance. I was nodding along the whole way. That made sense to me too.
And then she said this: “There is no one person on the leadership team that is equipped to understand this. Not one and she pointed at us. She pointed at the “they,” the division heads and head of school. She said this as an African American woman and pointed to non-African Americans.
I went home sick to my stomach. I was so upset by this. So upset that this was the way we started the year. So upset that our faculty was in so much pain and I was hurt too. I wanted to stand up next to her, but she gave me no space to join her. She was clear that it was about color and who am I a woman of white privilege to jump in. So I sat quiet.
But I went to find her the next day.
I told her how I agreed with what she said, but gave her feedback that she is hurting her cause. She gave me no space to join her. She gave none of us space to join her. Instead of uniting us, all as humans to condemn this attack, It became “us” versus “them.”
She was quiet. So of course, I kept talking. I know no other way. Silence makes me uncomfortable. I need to fill it.
I told her that I am Jewish and that among all the hateful chants was one: “Jews will not replace us.” That this is an attack on all of us. I then listed the other profiles on the leadership team that have an “other” label (gay, Asian, etc) attached to their identity. She sat quiet the entire time.
And she said…
And she said…
“Is this where you lecture me about the Holocaust.”
I will never forget it.
I will never forget it.
And for the first time, I was speechless. I was quiet. I left.
I was so hurt. So so hurt.
And it’s not until this NOW I understand why.
It wasn’t because I was Jewish and this was an antisemitic toned comment and I was angry on behalf of the Jews. It wasn’t that the school didn’t acknowledge it properly what had transpired. It even isn’t the HR investigation that looked into it and part of that was seeing if I am “targeting” faculty of color (yes that was what happened). And it even wasn’t that this type of woman was in power in our school, in an important position.
I was most upset that we sought the same thing, but yet she chose to fight me. How she was willing to hurt humanity to help HER humanity. How she saw me as so different. She saw me as a white blonde woman who had the privilege to go to schools like Dalton and Duke. And she’s right I am all those things, but can’t we work together?
What if we could?
Could we learn from the “hate?” As they seem very well organized. They stood in numbers united.
What if we could be a mass of people with targeted unifying goals?