I know that wearing a safety pin is not enough as we all navigate these tempestuous post-election weeks and months ahead. I get it that people don’t want to have to seek safety pins on folks like me to know that we are striving to be “safe,” tolerant and accepting of others and want to protect the rights of all. Articles by Christopher Keelty, Huffington Post contributor, and Derek Hawkins of The Washington Post have plenty to say on the matter of safety pins.
Enough, already. It’s a simple gesture…a first step, if you will, for many who feel at a loss about what to do and how to respond to all the hate, fear and antagonism that has drained from the festering wounds of the American political process.
I’m going to continue to wear my safety pin, and here’s why.
First, if you see me wearing a safety pin you can be assured that I will do my best to treat you with respect. You don’t have to wonder if I’m some old crone who is racist, who despises people of other faiths, political affiliations, or cultures. I’m going to do my best to smile at you, speak to your children when we’re waiting in line together at WalMart, listen to you if you want to gripe about the world and how it’s going to hell in a hand basket…or complain about boomers, millennials, the one percent, welfare fraud…or whatever’s on your mind. My safety pin is a reminder to me to be a respectful listener and to show kindness and compassion.
Second, if you see me wearing a safety pin you can be assured that I will gently call you out if I hear you utter words that might be hurtful or disrespectful to others. I will no longer be silent and roll my eyes. I will call you on your racist joke, your sexist comment, your rude gestures…disrespectful or hateful speech or actions of any kind…and I will try to do it with a sense of compassion knowing that the roots of hate and ignorance hold your heart and mind hostage. My pin will be a constant reminder for me to watch, listen and stand up for “liberty and justice for all.” It’s there in the Pledge of Allegiance…not that we’ve ever truly had liberty and justice for all, but let’s not give up on the idea. Look at where we are now. It’s time to get serious and all work to establish liberty and justice for all, promised so long ago but never delivered. My pin will remind me to do that.
Finally, the safety pin I wear will always be shut. It will be safely closed as a reminder to me to be safe with my own words and actions. It will be my reminder to keep my mouth shut and my ears open… to pause when I feel anger and frustration raging inside. This is no easy task, I assure you, and at times I will fail. But I will continue to try.
I will wear my pin because it is a modest symbol of a simple truth: we all need to feel safe in the world. My pin will remind me that I can take small or large actions, alone or with others, to enhance that feeling of safety in my own community. And if I see others sporting a pin, I will know they are kindred spirits.
So yeah, wearing a safety pin is not enough. We need to work hard for causes we believe in and we must stay active and diligent. We must lift each other up, protect each other and respect our differences with all the compassion we can muster.
If you want to wear a pin, go ahead. If you don’t have one, let me know. I ordered some jumbo size ones from Amazon and have 9 to give away.