“Don’t be a dick.”
Those words echo in my head pretty often. They pop up whenever I think something negative or mean-spirited about someone, whenever I forget to hold the door for someone walking in behind me, whenever I say something rude I hadn’t meant to.
Although I hate to admit it, it’s generally the philosophy I live my life by. Don’t be a dick. You don’t have to be nice to everyone all the time, but generally speaking, the least you can do is try. Try to be nice. Try not to be rude. Try to help other people. Try your best not to hurt them. Try not to be a dick.
I don’t understand a lot of things.
I don’t know what it’s like to walk into a store and have the employees follow me around because they think I might steal something. I don’t know how it feels to have someone give me a dirty look or shout a slur at me just because I’m wearing something that expresses my religion. If I am pulled over by a police officer, I’m not scared, because I know that, at worst, I am likely to get a ticket, and maybe waste a few minutes of my time. I’m not frightened that he’ll harass me, or hurt me, or threaten me just because of the color of my skin.
I am lucky.
If I am hurt, or injured, or sick, I can see a doctor. I don’t have to be scared that the bills will bankrupt me, or that they will be so expensive that I’ll be forced out of my home because I can’t afford to pay the rent and the medical bills at the same time. If I need birth control, I can go to a doctor and get a prescription, with the reasonable expectation that I can afford it.
I can walk around my neighborhood by myself at night and feel safe, without the fear that someone will shoot me or rob me or rape me.
I know where my next meal is coming from. I don’t have to worry if I have enough money to buy groceries and pay the rent and put gas in my car this week. And I don’t have to think about which one of those I will sacrifice if I don’t have the money for all of them.
I don’t have to worry about how I’ll get to work – I am lucky enough to have a car that gets me there. I don’t have to worry about taking the bus or finding a friend to give me a ride or whether or not I’ll be able to make it to work tomorrow, if the bus breaks down, or that route stops running, or my friend doesn’t feel like driving me.
I don’t have children to worry about, but if I did, I live in a relatively safe neighborhood. I wouldn’t have to worry if they would get to school safely, or if they would be safe while they’re there.
These things are all privileges. And they are privileges that I enjoy without much thought. I don’t think about how grateful I am to have my car every time I get in it. Or how thrilled I am to see a doctor whenever I make an appointment.
But I know that I am lucky. And that many women – many people – in this country are not so lucky.
These things are privileges. And they should not be.
And that is why I attended the march this past Saturday, January 21st, 2017.
Not for me. Not because this incoming administration is going to hurt me or impinge on my rights. But because I know that many people are not as lucky as I am. And that, under this incoming administration of uncaring, selfish men, many people who are not-so-lucky will suffer all the more. That they will lose rights, lose jobs, lose healthcare. And that some will even lose their lives as a result of losing that healthcare.
I didn’t join the march on Saturday because I’m a good person, or because I’m a special little snowflake. I did it because I care about people outside of myself.
And it’s not particularly noble or brave to care about people other than you…. It’s really the baseline of what you, as a human being, who exists in a world of other human beings, should do.
I didn’t do it because I’m brave or wonderful or any particular positive adjective you could put here.
I did it because I’m not a dick.