Choosing acceptance instead of intolerance
This weekend, my wife reminded me that the president’s “transgender military ban” had just gone into effect. Then she took a deep breath and exhaled, saying softly, “Kids are going to die.”
As a crisis counselor for LGBTQIA+ youth, she would know. Experience has shown her the risk and reality of trans kids dying by suicide. The president’s sanctioned hatred further threatens their brave, sometimes precarious wellbeing. I wondered, earnestly failing,
What can I do to stop him? What can I do to let trans people know their lives matter?
My wife gave me the answer: She showed up for her shift as a crisis volunteer. She talked to three young people, listened with empathy, shared resources, and let them know they weren’t alone.
Choosing unity over division
All the ugliness of intolerance rose up with cobra-headed venom when the president threatened Rep. Ilhan Omar—an elected Black, Muslim, immigrant woman—on Twitter. Hateful people followed his lead to threaten her too. Likewise hissing, the New York Post ran an inflammatory front page story targeting Rep. Omar. In the face of this inhumanity, you can’t help but wonder,
How on earth can we stop this? How do we tell our Black and Muslim and immigrant neighbors that their lives matter?
Bodega owners in New York City showed us the answer. They banded together—hundreds of them—refusing to sell the Post indefinitely. Sure, at most bodegas, you can still pick up coffee, sandwiches, and any other paper. But the Post? Nope. Bodega owners won’t take part in hatred.
Let history to be written through us
On the surface, one small act might seem too small, even inconsequential. There are no easy solutions to the challenges assaulting our neighbors and our nation. In fact, we would be most helpful to this administration if we simply shut down and shut up.
The truth is the story is still unfolding. It is premature to decide that small steps are futile. We must give history a chance to be written through us.
Which reminds me of the words of Mother Teresa:
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
In that spirit, think of how trans teens feel receiving acceptance in the face of intolerance. Think of how Black people, Muslim Americans, and immigrants feel knowing bodega owners choose them. The power of taking action comes not from the size or impact, but in choosing to extend loving service to our neighbor.
As you look over this week’s AoC Checklist, find one thing—and choose to do it with great love. That alone is enough.