First Duty

Or, what I need to tell myself every time I’m attempted to engage with bigots online.

They tell you you’re not as human as they are, and when you insist: I am human, I am, they say, “you’re clearly trying to convince yourself.”

That’s not how logic works. They build that hamster wheel on purpose. You could run forever in that thing and never move an inch. Don’t fall into its trap.

You can’t argue with someone who has walked off the cliff and is standing, cartoon-style, in thin air. To engage would be to join them out there.

Instead, you live your life. Be kind. Be fierce. Be helpful. Be authentic.

And if you will piss some people off by living your best and truest life, so be it. They are not your responsibility. Or more accurately, you have more important responsibilities:

You have, first and foremost, a responsibility to yourself, on behalf of the people who love you. You must take care of yourself. You must honor your mother by loving yourself as much as she loves you, and taking care of yourself as well as she did when you were a baby and she held you close. And you must show other people like you that they deserve to be cherished, by cherishing yourself.

Your duty is not to the bigots or the haters or the people for whom your life is outside their scope of understanding. You are precious. You have intrinsic worth. Nobody can grant you that, or take it away, and it is not your job to convince anyone. It is true. It will always be true.

You cannot heal the whole world. But you can heal yourself. And going forth into the world whole and true and certain — that is its own contribution to the wellness of our planet, of our people. You will make a difference. And you’ll never have to engage another stupid bigot to do so.

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