Forgiveness Is Earned Through Changed Actions and Not the Responsibility of the Afflicted

Forgiveness Is Earned Through Changed Actions and Not the Responsibility of the Afflicted
Photo: Nick Otto / San Francisco Chronicle

As many American citizens took to the streets across the country on Saturday, through songs, costumes, and chants - many were exhaling anxiousness and hurt of the past four years. While many start the healing process, there are already calls for unity and reaching across the aisle. To sit at tables with people who looked upon others as less than. Life is different when you’re on the losing end and if you’re not careful, the act of forgiveness can be used as a weapon against you. Before we go forward, forgiving is not a burden that befalls the oppressed. People wouldn’t be taking to the streets in this fashion for no reason. I’m here to tell you that forgiveness is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s not a hall pass nor that draw four UNO cards you have in your hand to keep the game going. No, forgiveness is something that you have to earn over time.

Much like the Trumpism movement has been telling minorities for years, nothing in this country is given for free. You have to work for it. This runs deeper than just being a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. The essence of Trumpism welcomed things like racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia into its rhetoric. It’s a thought process that strives to keep alive old prejudices such as Black people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps or that women shouldn’t have control over what happens to their bodies. One that erased any mention of the LGBTQ community from its foreign aid policy. It’s an ideology that breeds people like Dylann Roof and Kyle Rittenhouse. Bastions of civil rights such as Amy Cooper. The hive mind that chants “build that wall” to shudder a country that is a nation of immigrants and then believing the other country will pay for said wall. Those are the things that you attached yourself to and you’re going to have to take a long, hard look within yourself and know that.

So, don’t feel a certain way if people aren’t exactly leaping at the chance to welcome you back with open arms. People aren’t less patriotic because they didn’t vote for Trump and no, the country is not going to be terrible because Biden is the president-elect. It’s the melting pot of cultures that came together to rebuke the evils of Trumpism that truly makes this country great. And if you’re asking for forgiveness now, you’re about ten trains late to the destination. There’s no civility test when it comes to people’s lives.

Civility is not going to bring the lives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor back home to their respective families for the holidays. Civility is not going to heal the women who were subject to unwanted hysterectomies at our border. For months and years, you chose to ignore the cries of many. You rebutted the calls of Black Lives Matter with contrarian and detrimental callbacks of All Lives Matter. Even if you just silently support.

Trust me, your friends and family know. Whenever you like a status, share something on Instagram that you think nobody will notice, or rebut a point that sounds like a talking point from the president - it shows and it hurts.

Donald Trump is a figurehead, but the privilege is the disease. Stop placing the act of forgiveness on the victims and earn it. Do it in your everyday actions. Address your privilege and the damage that’s happened with being synonymous with a movement such as this administration.  You don’t willingly be a part of an ideology that hurts people and then call a cease-fire when you’re on the losing end. See, forgiveness is not given based on talk. You can state what you’ll do better until you’re blue in the fact. An act of forgiveness is earned by action. With forgiveness, people don’t owe that to you. Even if you don’t get that, you’re still required to be a part of the collective solution.

“Wait, I didn’t know!” “I only liked some of his policies, but I didn’t really like the racism stuff. I swear!”

“I have black friends!”

Sigh. If you have to fumble over yourself over the years to justify supporting something, that’s usually a signal that something is wrong. If you drive the getaway car to the bank robbery, you’re still aiding and abetting the crime.

Those comments are usually followed by “be grateful that you live in this country!” “I wish things went back to the way things were.”

This isn’t a sport where you get done, meet in the middle, shake hands, and say “good game.” No, many lives were ruined due to the administration and its supporters will have to accept their place in enabling it.

Don’t use forgiveness as a weapon against the people who had to deal with the uncertainty and pain of the last four years. You don’t dictate the timeframe and the conditions of that happening. As some of the country focuses on implementing an essence that is inclusive of all Americans, you can commit to tearing down your inner biases. Make an assertive effort to get to the root of why you felt so comfortable in backing a man with a rap sheet of offenses. Question why you are included in a legacy that people are buying champagne by the boatloads as a rebuke.