On Remaining Silent

I don’t remember how old I was when my grandma first told me the story. Maybe I was 10? 11? Regardless of the specific number of years, I know I was just a kid who had yet to hit high school.

Perhaps that’s why the story left such an indelible mark in my brain.

Grandma was never one to tell tragic stories from her past. After all, she came from that generation that was as tough as nails and raised on a diet of no complaints or sympathy. You did what you needed to do, you didn’t whine, and you certainly didn’t feel sorry for yourself.

That’s why I remember being semi-shocked when she told me how scared she felt when the KKK came to her house.

Both my grandma and my grandpa on my father’s side were Hungarian. In fact, my grandpa actually lived in Hungary until his early teen years when he returned to the USA. Grandma was born and raised in Pennsylvania, but apparently her family was not white enough or American enough to please the Ku Klux Klan. She only told me the story one time and didn’t wax poetic over the details. In summary, she  and her family woke up one night to find a burning cross in their front yard thanks to the KKK.

Years have passed and unfortunately, so has my grandmother. But in a way, I consider it to be a blessing that she is gone because I shudder to think what she would have to say about the current state of our country.

I know I live a very privileged life. I’m white; I’ve never gone hungry; my parents could send me to college; my husband and I can afford to build a home and financially support an addition to our family; the list goes on and on. Hell, we just spent thousands of dollars on a surgery for our dog. If that doesn’t scream privilege then what does?

But I also like to think I’m aware of what exists out there. However, it’s almost like the events of this past weekend have slapped me in the face with a 2×4. I may have thought I had an awareness of the hatred that still exists in this world, but I was wrong.

As we huddled at home all weekend under house arrest thanks to our post-op dog, I was fixated on the happenings in Charlottesville. I followed along online as the car slammed into the crowds, as Nazi sympathizers chanted hateful words, and as our president assigned blame to “both sides.” Honestly, the whole ordeal made me sick to my stomach, but I can’t tell you whether it was from humiliation, outrage, or unadulterated anger.

Where have we fallen that we can justify such hatred?

In the aftermath, I found myself watching the reactions of people online. Many people were vocal, as they should be. Others remained silent while many still claimed they “were sick of politics” and wanted to stay out of it. I saw a few created memes that denounced the weekend in a witty fashion, but I’ll admit that those didn’t sit well with me either. People died and we’re making memes?

I also noticed many of my most active friends in the outdoor industry went silent. Apparently some are willing to loudly condemn public land grabs but not white supremacy?

For any online influencer {as we’re referenced today}, we all have a brand. You all come to my site to read about anything outdoors: trip reports, adventure stories, outdoor women, gear recs, etc. I realize none of this falls into that category, but I won’t apologize for using my space to recognize this weekend’s atrocities.

Because if I realized anything over the weekend, it was that I don’t respect those who try to toe the line when it comes to human equality. I truly believe we’re living in a time that is going to be referenced in history books years from now, and it certainly isn’t going to be favorable. When I think about that, when I think about what I will tell our future daughter, I want to make damn sure I speak up for myself and others without fear or intimidation. I want my actions to be crystal clear in representing my beliefs, and my beliefs are certainly not wishy-washy on this topic.

We all need to wake up and take a look at the world around us. We need to be angry at what we’re seeing; we need to feel ashamed; we need to grow determined; we need to be outspoken; we need to do better.

I need to do better.

As humans, we all deserve love, compassion, and understanding. That’s not happening, but it is certainly on us to fix it.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Erika Wiggins August 15, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you Heather! I truly appreciate you sharing this post. These event have left us feeling like this is a bad dream.

  • Reply Art August 15, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    It’s not easy to encapsulate the feelings from this past weekend. Good on you for stating yours and for being so strong, even though it opens you up to the trolls and internet toughs. It takes courage

  • Reply Anagha Bharadwaj August 15, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I really appreciate this post. Thank you for speaking out.

  • Reply Jen August 16, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Thank you for this. I’ve been disturbed by the silence of so many of the bloggers I read. Maybe people are staying out of it because they aren’t political blogs, but I don’t consider a political issue. It’s a human issue and we each have a responsibility here, so thank you for being willing to use your platform to say something.

  • Reply Jennifer Bang-Johnson August 17, 2017 at 4:29 am

    Spot on. Thank you for this well written and poignant post. These are tough times, for sure, but all the more reason to rely on the quiet and stillness of nature and our surroundings. I only hope that this, too, shall pass, and quickly…

  • Reply Candi Hoffma August 18, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Thank you, Heather. as inolanned my classes this week, I had the same thought… people weren’t coming to me for politicos, but there was no way that I could teach while remaining silent. Where we are in the country is so much more than a political isssue. Thank you for making your voice heard Namaste!

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