I hope I speak for a lot of my generation when I say, we need to talk. You’ve spend my entire life trying to teach me about the world, telling me the importance of being a kind, generous, loving human being. Through religion you taught me that we must always look out for one another. Through school you helped me navigate bullying, and understand that sometimes, the bullies are dealing with their own problems and probably don’t have anyone to listen to them. Through my teenage years you showed me that things are sometimes difficult to overcome but if we persist, we will be victorious. If we fight for what we want, believe and hope for, we will win. Most importantly, you told me that nobody is perfect but the thing we need to always remember is we have the capacity to learn and be better.
These are all things that are incredibly true and powerful messages to give to younger generations so they too can navigate this hectic and crazy world with ease. You sat me down when I did something wrong. You showed me how my actions may have hurt someones feelings, and made them cry even when it wasn’t my intention. You sat me down to explain why my behaviour is important because it affects the people around me, whether I want it to or not.
But now, my dear family, it is my turn. I need to sit you down and talk about how your facebook posts are affecting the people around you, virtually and otherwise. You’ve done all you can to help me be the best person I can be, and now I feel I need to pay it forward by paying it back. I know the world you brought me up in is different to the one you are experiencing now, and that is sometimes difficult to grasp. It feels unfamiliar, and sometimes frightening.
But, its necessary. Things are getting better, and although you may not realize it, its for the good of all humankind. So, your facebook posts that seem to be voicing concern over gay rights, trans folks, how your country isn’t the same because of foreign nationals, are not concerned about these things at all. They are concerned for you. They are worried about change that affects you.
But. They don’t concern you. Since gay marriage became legal, your heteronormative marriage has not changed. It has not been made any less worthy. So why were you so insistent that gay people should not have this right? I’m sorry to say this, it breaks my heart, but you were wrong. You were being a bully, that thing you brought me up not to be. That thing you taught me was unfair, and hurt people? That thing that actually affected peoples lives and made them miserable. That’s what you became posting anti gay agenda’s on Facebook.
I know we live in scary times. I’m scared too. I’m afraid for the people who are ripped apart by terrorists while walking to work. I’m afraid for the children losing family, and parents losing children. I’m afraid for friends abroad because terror attacks are so frequent and brutal and hurt people as they move throughout their days hurting nobody. I’m afraid too. But what you taught me was to not let fear turn me into a bad person. Overcome fear by coming together. That’s what you taught me. So why are you posting anti muslin memes on your Facebook? Why are you targeting an entire group of people based on the actions of a few assholes? You taught me to be better than that, so why aren’t you? Your posts about bringing back our country, not letting muslim’s or foreign nationals take it from us are racist, they are. I know you think you are being loyal to your country, but your being a bully. Your targeting a whole group of people based on their religion, and that is not OK. You taught me better than that, and I’m sorry but I expected better of you. I expected you to practice what you so passionately preached to me for my entire life. I still expect you to do this.
What I want you to remember is that all of those little life lessons you taught me made me who I am today, and I think you’ve done one hell of a job. I am a good person, but also because I chose to learn. To do more. I questioned authority and became stubborn when it fell in the face of equality. I became stubborn and aggressive when I saw basic human rights violated because YOU taught me that everybody deserves these things. I want freedom for all people, regardless of gender, religion, class and race. And I thought that was because of how you brought me up. But when I see your posts about how Muslims should be banned, how gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry, how trans folk shouldn’t exist I realize its because of the hypocrisy of your teachings. How can you expect me to be loving, kind and caring when you also want me to hate, judge and discriminate? And without you knowing it, that is what is happening. Your teaching me opposite things. What your saying is, be kind loving and caring to those like you, but hate, discriminate and judge those who aren’t. And my dear family, that is not ok. I love you too much to allow this to continue.
You need to know how it affects the people around you, just like you taught me when I was young. When younger generations see your anti gay/trans/abortion/muslim posts they think that this is OK behaviour. They see their elders, who we are taught to respect, treat people with this hatred and judgement and they assume it is acceptable behaviour. Did you know racist bullying in America has become so problematic since the inauguration of Trump that children are using his awful words and his tarnished name to defend their racist actions? Because children look up to adults and emulate them, do you really want younger generations emulating your homophobic, anti woman, transphobic and racist actions?
You raised me better than that. Watch what you write, comment on or share because it is being noticed. When you like racist posts that appear to be supportive to your country, make sure they aren’t bringing another one down. When you share posts about how we are in danger of Muslims, make sure it is ONLY talking about extremists whose only interest is to cause panic and terror and make sure its not painting an entire community with one brush. When you comment ‘AMEN’ on a post about the importance of marriage as a sacred right, think to yourself ‘Will their marriages really invalidate mine? And why do I feel like they don’t deserve this sacred right too?’ Question yourself.
Because here’s the thing:
A lot of people I’ve had this conversation with defend older generations, saying that its just a different world now and things are changing too quickly and we shouldn’t expect people to change their entire belief system. This is how they were brought up and we shouldn’t force them to change. And that’s a fine argument, except its not true. Because I too was brought up thinking there was something wrong with gay people, not that they were bad people, but wrong all the same. Something terrifying about foreign nationals and anyone with a religion that was different to mine. I too was told that babies deserve to live and abortion is simply wrong. Except I chose to learn more, to get both sides of the argument and to change my views for the better. I chose not to blindly follow bigots and question authority when they told us something that didn’t feel right. I did these things because you gave me the power to by showing me how to be kind, loving and caring to ALL people. You gave me those abilities through the teachings from when I was a child, but now I’m an adult and I need you to know that you can change too. YOU have the ability to be better and to do more to be nice to EVERYONE. I’m not asking you to be a different person, I’m asking you to be the person I thought you were when I was a child, the person who you were when you gave me your many words of wisdom and advice. The one who helps people no matter their circumstances. I NEED you to be that person again. Hatred only spreads hate, but love? That spreads understanding, acceptance, welcoming, learning, and community.
Your daughter, son, niece, nephew, grandchild. Loved one.