I remember back when I started running, sometimes alone and at night, Donnie kinda assumed my paranoia about being fearful around men on the sidewalk was something unique to my anxieties. It didn’t take him long as he started paying attention to women’s behavior that he passed as he ran to realize: Oh, no. All women are scared of strange men on a sidewalk. It’s not a perspective he has, but he learned how valid it was once he listened to my fears and saw it in others. It has changed the way he passes women when he’s running or walking to work, it has also made him feel a little guilty that he does not have the same reflex. Like, why does he get to just go out for a run anywhere in town and not worry about being in a secluded area and not worry (as much, he’s not naive and recognizes times when he is vulnerable too) about the random strangers he sees lingering ahead? And not me?
Sometimes there’s no Right and Wrong perspective. There’s Your truth and Someone Else’s truth. Just because he’s not scared of the creepy guy hovering in the shadows doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot since Saturday. I took Wesley to our very small rally to protest the separation of families a the border. I saw a counter-protestor suddenly making himself known in the crowd and I got a bad vibe like I do with ANYONE who is obviously trying to stir up trouble. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but I saw him and I saw his sign and I was glad Wes had wanted to be near the water because suddenly dozens of people with fear in their eyes started running towards us and it took me too long to finally understand anything anyone was saying in the chaos and I finally realized one phrase was, “He’s got a gun!” I could see him walking away from the crowd and I didn’t see a gun, but suddenly I saw HPD flying across the grass towards the guy and I relaxed and thought, Okay. It’s good now. We’re safe. The cops are here.
That’s my instinct as a middle class white woman.
But then I thought of the people of color around me. How did they grow up? Did they grown up in any of the areas that reflect racial disparity in the use of police force? Or did they grow up witness to the racial disparity in arrests/convictions for marijuana use that does not match an equal difference in use between races? That would give you pause around the police. Did they have family or friends affected by the rates of mass incarceration, giving them an instinctive fear around what interactions with the police could do to their family? I can’t imagine any undocumented immigrants would have braved the rally, but what if you had undocumented family so the police showing up somewhere could mean separation from the people you love so your instincts would NOT be to relax in their presence? There are so many truths that someone can live that would have their reaction to the police showing up near them to be the COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF MINE.
I have friends who grew up Catholic and were directly impacted by abusive priests, and so they feel their stomach churn when they see any reminders of the Catholic faith. Whereas I see symbols of the church, and men and women who serve the church, and I have fond memories and love for the Faith they represent.
I have no profound insight or truths to add to any of these things, but sometimes I think we all need reminding that our life experiences created our perspectives to any situation. There are more truths than our own. Just because we feel safe around the police, doesn’t mean those who don’t are liars. Just because I think fondly of my time in the Catholic church, does not mean those that don’t should be discarded. Just because my husband can run confidently through a secluded area in the dark doesn’t mean I should ignore my instincts and do the same.
I just think it’s important for us to all meditate on the moments where there are two truths in perspective of a situation. It’s going to be key for us to conquer the division ahead of us. You may not believe someone else’s truth, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid based on their life experiences. I am grateful for the peace I felt in the chaos when HPD showed up Saturday, but I refuse to not also recognize the privileged life that allowed me to feel that peace.