Over the last month, we have seen protests for a number of issues; collective bargaining rights, women’s rights, black lives matter, LGBTQ rights, Muslim ban, Syrian Refugees, etc. These are issues that do not directly impact my life as a heterosexual, white male.
I have friends that these issues do impact. While they are part of why I fight for these issues, it is not the main reason. I was raised in a loving home that stressed the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity. One of the things I remember my parents saying to me is, “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” This is how I try to live my life.
One of my favorite quotes, and I have quoted it quite a few times this past month, is from Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps:
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.
This sums up the main reason I fight for the issues that don’t directly impact my life. I identify that these issues do impact my fellow Americans. First Trump threatened Muslim rights, and I DID speak out—because I respect people’s right to freedom of religion. Then Trump threatened LGBTQ rights, and I DID speak out—because I respect people’s right to love whomever they choose. Then Trump threatened Syrian Refugees, and I DID speak out—because I believe that everyone has the right to live without fearing for their lives. And when Trump finally gets around to taking away my rights—I will be there fighting alongside those I helped along the way.
The way we fight back against the oppression Trump and Republicans are pushing upon us is to stand up and fight for each other, even if the issues you are fighting for doesn’t directly impact you.