“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
I told you I was going now I will tell you what I saw at the Solidarity Shawl Marches in Honor of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Minneapolis and Duluth.
They came with photographs of missing or murdered dead sisters, aunts, mothers, children. They told of finding loved ones after years of search. They expressed gratitude in finding them and in bringing them home again – some to their graves. They told of the loved Ones they know nothing about except that they are gone. Of ships sailing from the harbors of Duluth taking young captives. Of domestic violence tearing families apart. Some came with tears. Some came with fight. All came with love.
I know about history and conquest and rape, gender genocide and sex trafficking. I know about man camps and police turning their backs. I know about self-serving perceptions and judgement of the value-less lives of women turned prostitute in order to survive. And I know that if the lives lost were children and women from privilege this would not be the epidemic it has become.
I knew about lives lost. Now I am witness to the love and honoring of those lives by the Ones left behind. I shared in their grief and in their laughter. I watched fathers holding their sons’ hands and young daughters being raised in dignity and surrounded by love. I saw generations holding out for the best for their families and for their people and I recognized again how similar we all are. And I know that if the lost were children and women from privileged neighborhoods in an affluent “white world” this would not be the epidemic it has become.
And I say to myself, “Your silence is betrayal”. And I say to myself, “What more can I do?”
The violence would end if each of us understood the preciousness of every life – including our own.
When our humanity becomes sacred to us, it will end. When we understand our silence as betrayal it will end.
Because it is someone’s son or daughter who is inflicting this violence. It is someone’s shame and ignorance that tears into the flesh of another.
The first step is admitting it. The second step requires turning shame into love.
End the silence. Find the love. In whatever way you can make it end.