How in the world did we reach such a high as the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday at Selma and such a low as the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing a vile rhyme on a University of Oklahoma bus trip? What a difference a day makes.
We can act like it doesn’t bother us. The random video that shows racial discrimination in a new way – one we never expected. We repeat the old children’s song that “stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Anger replaces pain as the emotion shown to the rest of the world. The truth? It never stops hurting.
There are other lessons in these two very different days that haven’t been talked about. First a small group of people can band together for good (Selma) or bad (SAE fraternity). They become stronger as the pressure to conform increases until it can feel impossible to say no. Second when someone has the courage to say “no” in a situation that is clearly bad or stupid the whole group dynamic can change…for the better.
Here’s the thing: Neither situation rarely occurs among strangers and that makes it all the harder.
J.K. Rowling says it best. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.