Thursday, July 30, 2015
Safety is not outrunning your brother
An old but beloved joke goes something like this. When you are walking in the woods with your brother and an angry bear approaches, you don't have to outrun the bear; you only have to outrun your brother.
Like many jokes, we don't tend to look past the punchline, but remember that after your brother is killed, you are simply next in line. Increasingly, our society seems convinced that it is good enough to outrun our brothers when the bear is societal or institutional violence or oppression. But those sorts of bears don't grow tired, and we should understand that we are somewhere in the same line simply waiting our turn.
Some conservative white good old boys in the South saw this recently. They might have laughed if a man in a pink shirt in a Gay Pride parade was roughed up, but when the violent eye of society cast its way at them in their Confederate flag shirts, they should have realized that the line is fickle. A well-to-do white male dentist in Minnesota might not have thought much about the threats of violence or death thrown at women on the Internet regularly, but after killing a lion as part of his "passion for hunting" and having to shutdown his Facebook page and website, he should recognize that the violent threats can turn toward you at any time.
We are all in line, and the only way to save ourselves is to tackle the bear together. If we accept uncontrolled violence from our police, we should not be surprised when it eventually hits us or our families. If we accept discrimination from our government, we should not be surprised when it eventually turns on us. If we accept violence and harassment and abuse leveled at the poor, the black, the women, the GLBT, etc., we should not be surprised if we suddenly find ourselves in some less-favored group because we are too liberal, too conservative, too rich, too poor, too intellectual, too uneducated, too fat, too thin. The insatiable bear will be out there as long as we think our safety depends on pushing others in front of us in line rather than dealing with the bear together.