by Sim Gill
There was a time when you were not welcomed, and in some places, even today, that is still true. Your conversations were hushed. Your secrets were buried deep in your soul, wrapped in a shroud of fear. Often you had to leave your home to find your family, and sometimes your family to find your home.
Loneliness was a constant companion. In the sea of humanity, there was no community of acceptance, acknowledgement or recognition. The public disdain had an infection to it contaminating into submission, and an utterance of shame into silence. To object was to draw attention, it was easier to go along and hold secret your compassion, concern, and the injustice that raised its head in some self-confident arrogance.
Young adults held others shame and hate as self-inflicted wounds; alienating isolation driving the pain inward, as a sentence passed upon their humanity. The mere weight of living getting heavier day by day. The burden added by the shame of others and the hurt of personal judgments turned inward. Personal cuts inflicted under the watchful and encouraging eyes of those would relish the joy of such suffering, feeding some indulgent appetite of hate. How many lives were lost to such judgments?
Those sages who would survive and transition into old age in quiet isolation keeping their selves muted. The wisdom of their experience becoming the silent support to the next generation by subtle and quiet gestures of justice, compassion and concern. They, mustering the courage to speak up, quietly, forcefully and then with the loud urgency that injustice demands. Their secrets turning into joy and then a demand asserting their dignity as their own needing no permission to live and love.
The times changed ever so slowly, the long pain harvesting its hurt like some hidden bloom, flowering into a hope and promise of dignity and justice. The stories, the lives, the voices, the effort finding itself like lost siblings in search of each other. From a community of silence, from a community of hurt, from a community of quiet isolation, from a community of discriminating injustice rose a community. A gathering of courage, anger, compassion, dignity, love — asserting itself, silent no more, finding strength in the unity of each other.
So now, when the prize is within reach, a new turbulence comes, testing the strength of community and the hurt comes from within — distrust, anger, alienation, loss of purpose, a distance becoming an abyss. So much is the common history of experience that no difference should be a wall between those who have been witnesses to injustice. Too much has been sacrificed for such an end.
My heart hurts to see the dissonance to our pride, to those who are the hearts of a collective history of a community that has accomplished so much, and still has much to do for each other and for those still longing for justice, dignity and hope.
Too much has been sacrificed for such an end. This is our common bond and our path back. Who will come to the aid of this COMMUNITY?
Sim Gill is the Salt Lake County District Attorney