Shannon Boston, All Souls Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration, shares a little insight from the conversation she had with her children after the election about the safety pin and what it means to wear it. She is asking everyone, people of all ages, to be upstanders … not bystanders.
America has elected a new President. And, people who voted for Donald Trump did so for a variety of reasons. We cannot assume the people who did vote for him agree with the messages he promoted during his campaign.
The fact is, many of the people who voted for Trump do not agree with the hateful and outrageous things Trump said about immigrants, Mexicans, people of color, women, people who identify as LGBTQ, people who are disabled, and people of the Islamic faith.
But, because Donald Trump was elected after having said outrageous and hateful things about immigrants, Mexicans, people of color, women, people who identify as LGBTQ, people who are disabled, and people of the Islamic faith—some people feel emboldened to bully the groups of people Trump called out.
Part of the All Souls covenant, our promise that we all make to each other each time we are in church, is “To help one another.” I need your help to live up to that promise.
Bullying might be on the rise and now it is more important than ever that we all stand with people who might be seen as “different.”
I’m asking you to be an upstander and not a bystander.
One way we, at All Souls, are publicly showing that we are upstanders is by wearing our safety pin … every day … everywhere we go.
Can anyone wear a safety pin? Yes, anyone who is willing to stand up to bullies. Women and girls? Yes. Immigrants? Yes. People of color? Yes! ANYONE who will be an upstander can wear a safety pin.
By wearing a safety pin, you are saying that you are a safe person. You are saying #YouAreSafewithMe. You are saying to everyone you see, “If you are a Muslim, a woman, identify as LGBTQ, are a person of color, an immigrant, or a person who is disabled, or is being targeted in any way—“I will stand with you, I will speak up for you, I will listen to you, I will do what I can to make sure that you are safe.”
Now, just wearing the safety pin is not enough. It is both a signal to people that you will help them and a reminder to you to keep your promise to help. You have to disrupt bullying wherever you see it, but you must do it safely and carefully to help people see each other as potential friends and not as enemies.
That means no name calling or getting into fights, but instead finding ways to safely disrupt bullying.
Here are some ideas:
- Let people know that you believe bullying is wrong. Talk to people about why you wear your safety pin and share the idea of the safety pin.
- When you see someone being bullied, stand with them and talk with them. Ignore the bully and direct all of your attention to the person who is being bullied.
- Report it to someone in authority as soon as you can.
- Stick around for the person being bullied. Ask them, “Can I help you make a phone call? Get you a drink of water? Go with you to report what happened?”
- And if bullying happens when the person or group of people isn’t there, speak up and say, “That’s not okay. I disagree. You shouldn’t talk that way about anyone.”
Pick up a safety pin when you come to All Souls. Wear it proudly and share the word about how to be an upstander. We all need each other and we have promised to help one another.
Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration
All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa