When I see clowns, my whole body tenses. I wonder what I will need to do to get it to go away. There are movie scenes (some critical to plots) that I consider skipping because I realize a clown will have a ton of screen time. I get annoyed with people who wear clown shirts because they seem like an oddly ignorant things to do - don't you know how many people are afraid of this?
I am not afraid of clowns. My best friend is.
When I talked to her about this, she laughed for a second, and grew silent.
"You know, I'm the same way with snakes."
She is not afraid of snakes. I am. I don't know if I have ever felt more loved, because I knew that she did not really share my fear; she helped me carry it, and offered protection from something she does not fear.
What we have today is an America that did not listen to each other's valid, important fears, but tried to explain them away, and poorly. Minorities, in particular Muslims, spoke out online in an attempt to reach places where race is not of primary concern, and those with the privilege of living in those places did not listen. Now, many of their fears are being realized. Hate crimes have skyrocketed, and religious persecution against Muslims has increased in volatile areas. People terrified of their country being ruined by a lack of respect for the law in regard to immigration were not heard by those that do not share that fear. Riots have broken out, those who have been silenced cannot remain so. And we are all afraid.
Since the election results were announced, I have been shaking with empathy. This is not a pleasent or noble thing to be. It is ugly and painful. A coworker and I quietly - so as not to annoy our professors - talked to each other about how the divide in the country was physically painful, how it hurt. It hurts so much, how food sticks in our throats. And we, two white Christian women, with college educations and families, are afraid for our brothers and sisters.
Brothers, sisters, if we do not listen to empathize, if we do not sit on the curb with our crying and bloody fellow citizens, if we do not care for America's children, we will continue to be afraid, and voices will continue to be silenced, perhaps out of a fear that they may be right. Justice will be silenced. This is not a "red needs to listen to blue" or "blue needs to listen to red" issue. This is a matter of hearing people who are not saying what we would, and leaving their voices room to speak. It is loving those that we cannot agree with. It is realizing that we are all human, and therefore all wrong in ways that we do not see and right in ways that we may miss.
I've been thinking since the election on what I could possibly say today. I've realized it's not my place to say much beyond this: I will love you, whoever you are. I stand with your pain. You are no alone.
When I was a kid, I had terrible nightmares, the kind that made sleeping impossible and eating in the morning just as difficult, the kind that could not be shaken, sometimes for days. Finally, my parents asked what - if anything - would make it easier to sleep in my own room. I asked them to leave the light on. For a while, they let me have an overhead light on all night, shining light into all corners of the room. Eventually, it became a nightlight, and then darkness. For a long time, I could not sleep in silence. The fear had to go away before I could sleep. The light process took months; the sound process took years.
For the love of God, turn the lights on.