“No! Help! Help me!” I cried out, loudly, to all the people in the McDonald’s.
“Shut the hell up!” Tiana started dragging me toward the doors.
“Help!” I screamed, looking around at all the moms and their kids bustling to the play area and bending over their Happy Meals. “Help me! Don’t let her take me! Please!”
No one even looked at me.
The above is a passage from Saving Alex a memoir from Alex Cooper, which I am currently reading. The biography describes Ms. Cooper’s 2010 ordeal with Southern Utah “conversion therapy” after she came out to her parents as gay.
My favorite novel of all time is It by Stephen King. That story features the town of Derry, built around, haunted, and possessed by an ancient soul-devouring monster. When I read the passage above, I thought of this passage from It, in which one of the characters is running from the monster who has possessed her father:
If he caught her he would choke her, or beat her, or kick her. And when it was over, someone would come and collect him and he would sit in a cell the way Eddie Cochran’s stepfather was sitting in a cell, dazed and uncomprehending.
She ran toward downtown, passing more and more people as she went. They stared – first at her, then at her pursuing father – and they looked surprised, some of them even amazed. But what was on their faces went no further. They looked and then they went on toward wherever they had been going.
I believe that few individuals are true monsters. They are rarely as racist as David Duke, or as bigoted as Gayle Ruzicka, or as misogynistic as Donald Drumpf. I think our society, however, exposed to the constant diseased energy of these individually demons can amplify that hate, ignorance, and bigotry; can cause good people to do bad things, or, sometimes worse, nothing at all.
We’ve all heard of mob mentality; when a group of people start acting viciously, and that emotion permeates the mob, and keeps building, and building, and building on itself until it reaches a frenzy level? It seems as if this soft racism, this soft bigotry, this soft acceptance of misinformation and willful ignorance is somehow more insidious and more pervasive, infecting even the most good hearted of people with the willingness to condemn, judge, and cast aside people they don’t even know, for the most inexcusable of reasons. It quietly encourages the populace to vote for politicians who promise to hurt the minorities among us – even should they not tacitly agree. To support or simply ignore the passing laws that only serve to further wound the vulnerable. To become defacto lesser demons of the true monsters.
I can only hope that, like the Stephen King novel, empathy, love, and unconditional friendship can defeat the monstrous.