I’m Thankful, Not Complacent

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As someone who frequently engages in conversations centered on hotly contested issues, I have been exposed to several statements from members of the opposition that irritate me to my very core. I could write numerous articles covering the rebuttals of these individuals and why I disagree with them, but as it is the holiday season and being thankful and grateful is on everyone’s minds, I thought I would focus on one recurring sentiment in particular. It worms its way into more of these debates than common sense would deem appropriate, so I feel like it is time to address the issues with this concept so all of its proponents can understand why it is fundamentally wrong.

It is the idea that I should stop arguing, stop fighting, and stop challenging oppressive institutions because we’re better off than we used to be; at least according to their agenda. They tell me that, rather than continuing to push forward, I should simply be thankful that I live in a time that is “decent” for people like me and that I am selfish, combative, and ungrateful by “continuing to make a scene” about equality. Rather than stirring the pot, why can’t I just be docile and happy? Why must I be so annoyingly argumentative when it comes to pushing for equality?

First and foremost, I am thankful that I’m alive in a time and a place that allows me to live my life relatively unaffected by significant oppression. However, I also recognize the privilege I stop challenging a white, masculine, middle-class male with a supportive group we used and family. I know deep down that I could easily enjoy an idle life without worrying about progressing marginalized about equality. So logically, yes, I could simmer down with the debating, and happy, and the advocating, which would surely help assuage to pushing of uncomfortableness that my typical opposition feels when these issues are brought to their attention.

But honestly, what kind of message does that send? By accepting an idle life process, you could validate the oppression of any marginalized group. Instead of accepting things as “slightly better” why can’t we continue to fight for equality for everyone? Furthermore, who are you to tell me that I should be happy with my lot in life when you aren’t experiencing it yourself? The only people that true equality threatens are the ones who benefit from the continued repression of these ostracized communities.

There is also the fact that while I might be able to live my life relatively unscathed by oppression, there are people in this country and all over the world who face death on a daily basis just by being themselves. Sitting by complacently as others in my community needlessly suffer, wherever they might be in the world, would be an insult to all those who come before us and helped us get to this “decent” place. The ones who bravely fought tooth and nail, sometimes with their lives, to be seen, heard, and accepted. Without those people, where would we be today? Complacency for the sake of convenience would be one of the highest insults you could deliver to their legacy; I will not be party to such an action.

I recognize that it is pure, random luck that landed me where I am and that has allowed me to be open and vocal about my sexual orientation, and I will not let that go to waste when so many others find themselves in positions that are much more dire.

So no, I am not ungrateful or unwilling to acknowledge that some progress has been made; I’m simply refusing to acknowledge that we are at a place where I can see true strides towards lasting, stable equality for everyone in my community. There are stories shared every day of people being disowned, beaten, or even killed for simply being who they are; if you think that is a “decent” place, then shame on you. Just because these issues might not affect you personally or impact someone you know does not mean they are not pressing, important issues that still need to be acted upon.

Sitting by because the problem doesn’t affect you is exactly how we get to a world like the one we are living in today. The mentality of, “It’s their problem, not mine!” leads to an even greater issue than we had before and takes us that much further from finding a lasting solution. So do not ask me to be quiet and complacent; instead, ask yourself what you can do to advance us towards a world where I am able to be both of those things.