Don't be Silent

At the emergency protest against Trump's Executive Order targeting Muslims at JFK on Saturday night I had the chance to talk to some of the other protesters. The people there represented a wide swath of society from young to old, from light to dark and from hippie to professional and it was interesting to to talk to everyone but I had one conversation with a middle-aged Jewish woman that really made an impression on me.

I saw her standing alone at the edge of the main group with a small sign that she had obviously made in a hurry. She was neatly dressed, very quiet and she spoke considerately. I asked her what brought her out to the protest and she said, "I'm Jewish and we're just very worried we're seeing it again."

She said that she and her family and friends have been worried since before the election and they were very heartened by the turnout for the Women's March. The thing that concerns her the most is the role of Bannon and Pence in the Trump administration and some of their recent actions that have sparked alarm in her community. In particular she was troubled by the fact that the Executive Order targeting Muslims was announced on Holocaust Rememberance Day, made a specific exception for Christians and that the President's statement to commemorate the day did not mention "Jews". She thinks Muslims are the first target.

It would be unwise to think that we fully understand the intentions of the Trump administration or that we know conclusively where things are headed. History doesn't repeat itself or even rhyme and anybody who thinks they know exactly what's happening is delusional. However, we can learn from history and use it to expand our political imagination so it can help us to confront the present and make wise decisions about the future. [1]

One lesson we can learn from the past is that everyone must be engaged intellectually, read history, seek out voices of reason and use their own critical faculties to form a political opinion about the present. No particular individual knows what is best for humanity but by listening to each other and thinking things through critically we can reach the best understanding of the present and make wise decisions for the future.

However, the most important lesson we can learn is that you can't be silent. Silence itself is a political statement. If you feel something in your heart you have to speak up and be heard. Tell your friends and families how you feel, go to a protest and talk to people there, write your thoughts down and share them with your friends. Just don't be silent.

Millions of people are protesting now, actively engaged, putting their bodies on the line because they feel that things are not normal and they want their voices heard. They aren't being silent and neither should you.

Please don't be silent.