In a world gone mad the answer might be a safety pin

Vox.com is reporting a new trend that’s emerged since the election. It’s a simple gesture inspired in the wake of Brexit. In the midst of violence and unrest, as Britain considered leaving the European Union, millions of Brits adorned themselves with safety pins to show solidarity and intolerance of hatred and bigotry.

It’s an easy thing to take for granted – safety. Unless yours has ever been taken away, or those you love, or those you identify with.

I spent this evening with folks who remind me how blessed I am to live amongst local leaders and heroes. Tonight was Health Equity Alliance’s Autumn Awards Dinner. I enjoyed reconnecting with some great people and getting to know some folks who despite their amazing talents and dedication to serving the marginalized, fear for their safety.

One day after the election, the International Business Times reported:

“Trump’s stance on the LGBT rights poses a risk to some of the legislative progress made during the Obama years, such as the Marriage Equality Act and anti-discrimination laws. With Trump taking office in January and Republicans retaining control of Congress, what happens to LGBT rights is a matter of concern.”

It is a reflection of my social privilege as a white, upper middle class, heterosexual man living in this country that I do not fear for my safety by virtue of political policy. It is further indicative of my privilege that I am disgusted with politics and I could afford the option of turning my attention away from it.

But I cannot, must not, and will not.

In just two days I have spent significant time with those I serve and with friends and family who are afraid and very reasonably so. We fear the possibilities like the potential for Roe Vs. Wade being reversed. We fear losing gains in the rights of marriage equality. We fear increased intolerance and discrimination. We already feared the intrusiveness of our government. Now we fear the leadership of a man who is seems completely unaware of his social privilege and filled with intolerance and hate.

I know this – change most often occurs in our society through pendulum swings. After  the atrocities of 9/11, we went from minimal airport security to a point where grandma had to surrender her knitting needles. In the midst of our latest opiate epidemic, grandma gets called in for urinalysis and pill counts. We do too little and then we go to extremes.

I live in a country that feels progressively unsafe. I don’t find it confusing, only disappointing. I know that we who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I know that Rome always falls. I know that we will experience further shifts and extremes.

All of this makes me ever more mindful to separate what I can do from what I cannot. My greatest responsibility living in this society is to be a nurturing and loving person who upholds the rights and promotes the dignity of all people. Safety is the most basic of our rights.

Myself, my place, and my people will prove an age old truth: Love conquers all.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.