I recently noticed that I’ve been experiencing an age of “de facto” living. Meaning that I have become accustomed to accepting that things must be empirically so, simply because that is how we, as a society, are taught to think.
People who smoke Marijuana are criminals.
Anyone who’s anyone, goes to college.
People who are poor, stay poor.
It’s not like I say any of these things out loud. That would be offensive! But I’ve thought them. And I think them. And I let the thoughts fester. And become part of my ideology – but it’s all purely by accident!
Because I’m a good person!
Because I’m a really good person.
I’d never do anything to proliferate the grossly negative stereotypes that exist around people who make up different cultural backgrounds. I’d never tell a racist joke at my workplace or refuse to provide a service to a person who didn’t share my religious beliefs. No way. I’d never do that.
I’m not a bigot.
But I have passively nodded my head when I’ve heard people speaking in prejudicial language. I’ve quietly chuckled at a joke made at the expense of another. And I’ve silently scrolled right on past an example of outright racism.
And that is just as damaging. I don’t care how “good” of a person you are.
So we can all continue living a “de facto” existence, where we accept everything at face value: That people in positions of authority get to do whatever they want, just because of who they are. That maintaining the status quo is more important than maintaining civil rights. And that there’s nothing we can do to stop any of it.
Or we can call bullshit.
Because we are all good people. No one deserves to be treated like any less.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller