I will always advocate for coming together as people, and I will always advocate for love over hate.
With that being said, I also believe in self-love and in human rights and in taking a stand for what we believe in.
I believe in healthy boundaries and effective communication and making peace with others. And I’ve come to believe that basic human decency deserves to be a firm line in the sand.
Back in October, rapper Eminem made waves at the BET Hip Hop Awards for taking a stand against President Trump. His message to Trump and his supporters was powerful:
“I’m drawing in the sand a line: you’re either for or against. And if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split on who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this: F- you! The rest of America, stand up.”
He’s not wrong, and here’s why:
We can have differences of opinion and still be friends. We can enjoy different perspectives and still find a way to bridge the gap. But our line in the sand should always be basic human decency.
Why should we tolerate perspectives and opinions—that likely won’t change—that violate the basic human rights of others? Why aren’t we saying, “I love you, but no. This isn’t okay, and I won’t continue to associate with you or the things for which you advocate”?
It’s okay to walk away from these people. It’s okay to hit the unfriend button or unfollow them. We don’t need to feel guilty for taking the uncomfortable stand of upsetting people we love who don’t care about the rights of others. Maybe our unwillingness to associate with them will help them think about the impact of their attitudes, opinions, and behaviors. Maybe it will even help them gain a new perspective.
But how do we decide where the line in the sand needs to be drawn? This will differ based on the individual, but here are a few of my personal red flags:
>> People who do not support basic human rights.
>> People who are (openly or privately) racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, homophobic, or transphobic. People who promote rape culture and misogyny.
>> People who are incapable of minding their own business (i.e., they argue with every post that advocates for human rights, they encourage us not to take public stands for our beliefs, they ask us to stop posting things that make them uncomfortable, they troll our posts to create divisiveness, they don’t respect our right to believe the way we choose despite repeated requests to do so).
>> People who continuously act in ways that are unkind or even harmful to us or others.
We can love the hell out of people who stand for everything we stand against. We can have all the compassion in the world for them, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve a place in our lives. It doesn’t mean we have to tolerate continued abuse.
Sure, we may be accused of intolerance for their beliefs simply by being who we are and advocating for others. We may make enemies or inadvertently cause hurt feelings. It may even be difficult for us. We may miss these people. But at what point is enough just enough?
At what point do we choose to say that this is the line in the sand, and the people in our lives need to pick a side?
This isn’t about only keeping people in our lives who agree with us. But the bad things in our world often happen because they are allowed to happen—by silence, by complicity, by people who just don’t want to get involved. Do we really think Harvey Weinstein could have harassed as many people as he did if other individuals, powerful ones who heard it was going on, spoke out or simply believed and supported the victims of his abuse?
What does that look like in our lives? Our friend makes a joke in extremely bad taste (say, a joke about rape or a joke whose punchline is a person of color or differently abled or gay), and we confront them on it. We see a person get touched inappropriately, and we make sure they are alright and report what we saw. We see a social media post that perpetuates hate, and either publicly or privately confront the person who posted it.
We speak out. We say it’s not okay. We say enough is enough.
Lines in the sand aren’t about hate. They are the opposite. Lines in the sand are about loving ourselves and others enough that we choose not to be complicit in hateful rhetoric. We choose not to sit down to dinner with it or laugh over drinks with it. We choose not to sit beside it at church or in the classroom. We don’t friend it on social media or tolerate it in our lives.
We say that we love humanity enough that hate against it isn’t acceptable.
That’s what love looks like.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis