I saw this posted elsewhere and thought how perfectly this really sums things up.
Imagine a lifeboat built for two drifting at sea. There’s one person on the boat and one person in the water clinging to the side. The person on the boat says “I’ll fight to keep you off this boat. I don’t trust it to hold us both.” The person clinging to the side says “If you won’t share the boat, I’ll fight to get on. It can hold us both, and I deserve to be on it as much as you do.” Who’s to blame for the ensuing fight? Here’s a hint: it’s not both sides. It’s the person saying “stay off.”
“Stay off” creates a victim. It’s an aggressive message of exclusion fueled by fear, hate, cowardice, or selfishness. Meanwhile, “let me on, too” creates no victims. It demands inclusion and an end to victimhood.
Some in our society march to say “stay off.” Others march to say “let me on, too.” The first is about subjugation. The second is about equality. The first is about preserving unjust deficits. The second is about overcoming them. Both messages are protected speech in our society, but only one deserves condemnation.
Not that long ago, Americans used force to end a system of hate. Not hate on many sides, but hate on one side conquered by justice on the other. Within our civil society, we don’t respond to hate with force because we’ve built a system meant to preserve justice for all. But “justice for all” means lending an ear to the person in the water saying “let me on, too” and condemning clearly the person on the boat saying “stay off.”
When the individual entrusted at the highest level with preserving justice in our society fails to lend an ear to calls for equality and doesn’t immediately call out hate when it’s marching down the street, trust in our system is understandably shaken. So enough with the demonizing of those saying “let me on, too,” and enough with the obfuscating, excuse-making, and false equivalencies in defense of those shouting “stay off the lifeboat.” Our society depends on it.
Credit: John Petersen