In 2009, I started this blog. In the beginning, I wrote about my life as a stay-at-home-dad and the blog was named Smart Men Marry Doctors. Through the years I have allowed the blog to consume me, I have left it silent, changed the focus from writing to art and back to writing. When I finally came to understand and became comfortable with the role that God had laid out for me I changed the name to Quietly Making Noise, the title of a Jimmy Buffett (I’m a Parrot Head) song and a nod to my father, who thought it was a wonderful saying. The one constant that has remained over the years is that I have stayed away from politics and the other divisive topics of our time. I loathe confrontation and am not all that interested in politics but it has become clear that I need to step out of my comfort zone and to begin quietly making noise because being silent is no longer an option.
The politicization of our country did not magically appear in 2016. Frustration and mistrust have been brewing for years; Trump just hastened the process by using his position as president to push lies and conspiracy theories and divide our country further. This was easily done because as a society we have been complacent, happy to stay in our own bubbles of selected information and ignore what is glaringly obvious.
After Trump’s “stand back and stand by” remark that the Proud Boys and other extremist organizations took as marching orders I decided to try and learn more about the Proud Boys and domestic terrorism in general. I spent a day looking through the websites and documents of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the FBI, The Center for Strategic International Studies, and various news reports. I even watched a couple of videos of the founder of the Proud Boys who openly promotes violence. That should not be surprising from a fraternity of grown men whose second stage of initiation is to punch the inductee repeatedly while he yells out names of breakfast cereals. It is all very troubling, but because I educated myself if only slightly, I came away less afraid because education removes fear. I also came away feeling hopeful. It is still monumentally scary as Elizabeth Neumann underscored when speaking about Trump’s words from the debate in a tweet on September 30th; “This is bigger than countering Antifa protest or militia activity at riots. The root ideologies at play are responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing.”
We cannot despair. Running to our beds to hide under the covers is not allowed. What we can do is follow the advice of my grandmother who in 1997 wrote to me in her angelic script on fine cream colored paper the following words.
“The key to life is to be ever brave, sure and considerate of fellow men. Be ever aware of the needs around you, and above all, live each day with kindness.”
Living in kindness and consideration is the first step in the process of healing this nation. When we step out of our narcissistic tunnels and listen to others so that we can understand the common bonds that connect us we can begin to grow in empathy with each other. We as citizens need to rise up and come to the table with open hearts and minds ready to listen. We have a long way to go. But if we have a frank, honest, and civil discussion, and accept the faults of others as well as our own, then we will persevere.