THE BLOG
11/20/2016 10:55 pm ET Updated Nov 21, 2017

Doing The Most Good

"I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good." Maya Angelou

So, like many others, I am 'woke'. Woke at 3 in the morning with nightmares. Woke to seeing that the hatred of women is far stronger than I realized. That people, men and women, will wear signs & sweatshirts of the greatest disrespect. That fear-mongering towards the 'other' has never stopped. That though we are a nation of immigrants, we still want to step down on the most recent who've come to America, despite that most of us are here because our forebears traveled from far away, usually running from evil or hardship.

Woke to knowing that we, a country founded (we learned in grade school) on religious freedom, have neighbors considering limiting that basic right. That we've followed the glory of President Obama with an outpouring of hatred towards black lives mattering and women's rights being human rights.

And now I find white people lecturing other white people on how to be correct--a white man wagging his finger at me via the Huffington Post and saying "We don't get to make ourselves feel better by putting on safety pins and self-designating ourselves as allies."

Here's what I think: there is no bad or good way to show respect, to offer support or to show your pain together with the rest of the nation of people who cares. Consider this: I am not wearing a pin to "assuage my guilt", but I wear it thinking of my long-ago family left behind in Germany who were made to wear yellow stars, and how their lives would have been . . . lives . . . if all had resisted and put on yellow stars.

I can wear a safety pin even as I do a host of other things to guarantee this country stays as much on course as possible. I don't need to be white-mansplained at the moment (or ever). If my wearing a pin helps one person feel safer, or one person feel that they are not alone, then I don't care if it embarrasses that man or that he considers me embarrassing.

The outcome of this election has thrown our country into great danger in ways I do not need to enumerate. I am now doing whatever I can to help the country from tipping towards hate, including pinning a symbol on my shirt. Safety pinning is one small act--and perhaps, if someone needs to know who to sit next to on the train, than it is one large meaningful act. The last thing we need is to judge each other's acts of kindness, things that hurt nobody, at a time when there is evil to fight.

And if wearing a pin is the only thing someone is doing--then I'm okay with that. At least one more bit of goodness is going out into the world.