I have been visited by inspiration. And her name is Misty Bell Stiers. Before I tell you about MY gorgeous inside and out friend, I have a confession to make. Here it goes: My name is Ilene and I am addicted to engaging idiots on Twitter. Yes, I know its a form of sadism and I am as likely to change their minds as they are to change mine. Although I can be taught, and I even take accountability when I am wrong about something (Fun fact, the Hawaiian islands do not actually belong to any continent! Seriously, Google it.)
This was the tweet that started it all tonight.
So I did what drives my husband crazy and I engaged:
The answers I received from one particular individual were horrific and make me scared for any kids that might live in his household. Here are some examples from the plethora of insults lobbied at me tonight.
And last but not least, the reason I arrived at Misty:
You see my friend Misty is Wiccan. She is a witch. An actual one. Even wrote an amazingly powerful book about it called: Witch Please, A Memoir. Finding Magic in Modern Times. (Get it at your local independent bookstore but if that’s not an option its on Amazon too and I’ll put the link at the end.)
So when the “Follower of and believer of Christ with XY chromosomes” (his words not mine) decided to call me a witch, I felt like I had finally arrived. Men, well people but mostly men, who don’t know any better throw the word witch out in an attempt to hurt and offend. But as Misty very accurately said: “usually it’s connected to well informed and brave women — not the insult that’s often intended :) Glad to have you in the Coven.” I’M. IN. HER. COVEN. If you had any idea of how cool, fabulous and exquisite Misty is you would undoubtedly understand my excitement at the mere thought of breathing the same air as her.
I poured my heart out to her about how this person had shifted my inner peace for the day with his bombardment of messages, all less than 280 characters. I told her how frustrated and powerless I feel about the extremism that is rampant in the country. I feel like there is no end in sight and no matter what happens, who gets elected or defeated and the promises made that it will get better, it just doesn’t. And I am scared. I am scared for all the LGBTQ+ kids and adults who are finding their safe spaces get smaller and smaller.
This is a population that is 4–5 TIMES more likely to be the victim of sexual, physical or psychological abuse. They are also 4 times more likely to attempt suicide. So what does the “Pro-Life” party decide to do? They take away more and more of their safe spaces not to mention their rights as humans. Legislation like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida with the amendment of having to “out” a child to the parent and/or call child protective services; and the anti-trans bills being passed in Arizona and Texas are an abomination to the country we are supposed to love and to the children we are all supposed to protect. And I have questions. Lots of them. Some honest questions based on my ignorance but most are rhetorical in the hopes that they will magically illuminate something inside the closed minds of people who wish to control the minds and bodies of all. For example:
- How does it affect you personally that Joey doesn’t feel like a boy, she actually feels like a girl and would rather be known as Sophie?
- That Jonathan (VanNess, the absolute Queen of all Non-binary people everywhere) doesn’t feel entirely like a man or entirely like a woman but somewhere in between or both at times?
- If you are pro-life, why would you take away services and protections that literally save the lives of at-risk youth?
- Would you rather they be dead from suicide because they don’t feel seen, or heard, or known as their true selves than to let them be and live their lives as their true selves?
- And finally back to: HOW the actual F*CK does it affect YOU??
For a party that is also supposed to be all about small government and “stay out of my life” they sure so like to be involved in everyone else lives, choices and genitals. They were shouting My body My Choice atop the mountains for all to hear when it was about masks and vaccines, but their voices are deathly silent when it’s about reproductive health, reproductive choice, sexuality and gender identity. What gives anyone the right to determine how another human should feel or how they should identify?
I remember a few years ago when corporations were introducing “gender neutral” bathrooms that evangelicals were all up in arms. “Our children won’t be safe because men will dress like women to molest them!!” And they were right in a very roundabout way. Gender neutral bathrooms or not, I have 2 daughters and I was (and still am) worried about men dressing like women to gain access to bathrooms and assault them. However I have never been scared of a transsexual woman in the bathroom wanting to molest my child. The difference is, one is a man dressing like a woman, the other is, wait for it, A WOMAN. Yes depravity comes in all shapes, sizes and genders. But the depravity is because they are sexual predators, NOT because they are transsexual. Let me put it in a context easier to understand. All Hispanics aren’t Mexican and all Christians aren’t Catholic, right? Well not all transsexual humans are child predators. BTW, the gender neutral bathrooms so many were so petrified of were more often than not a one stall room that already existed called “family restrooms” so it was much ado about nothing, but I digress.
Back to Misty. In the middle of our text conversation she wrote something that was the inspiration I mentioned at the beginning and, in my opinion, the most important takeaway from this long soapbox presentation of mine: “Validating an experience doesn’t equal understanding it. But it does equal fostering a sense of belonging for all of us.” AMEN Sister!! You as an individual are not required to understand or even agree with the choices others make about their own lives, bodies and futures. But you are required to respect as long as it doesn’t actually hurt/cause harm to anyone.
And at the crux of hurting someone, the common thread is usually some version of: “Well it affects me because I don’t want my kids to be exposed to that” or “I don’t agree” or my personal favorite “It’s indoctrination!” All of that is fine and dandy, but you don’t get to infringe on someone else rights because you are uncomfortable. You are welcome to raise your own children as you see fit and teach them your version of what is moral and what isn’t. But you do not have the right to dictate what is discussed in others lives, how others choose to raise their children and what values they teach them. Sexuality and gender are not something that can be manipulated with indoctrination. Who a person loves and who they feel they are is something that each individual is born with. If you are part of the group that wants Jesus back in the classroom in public schools; or is in favor of the censure of important literature like Maus and 1984 just to name 2 of hundreds; if you are OK with the silencing of a group of people because you don’t agree with the way they choose to live their lives, and you are want to force your beliefs, religion, morality on others; then I have some shocking news: YOU my dear are the cancel happy woke mob that the right loves to warn everyone about. (BTW, there are few words I detest more than “woke” and please know that if you ever use it sincerely it makes you sound as ignorant as you are.)
In the late 1940’s, after WWII, a Lutheran Pastor named Matin Niemöller wrote:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionist, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
The bottom line is simple, you don’t have to like or even agree with others’ choices, but you MAY NOT take away their basic human rights unless you are OK with and prepared for others to take your rights away because they don’t agree with you.
Be careful or you might find yourself like Pastor Niemöller, with no one left to stand up for you.
Misty Bell Stiers - Modern Witch
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