As a Jew, fighting to end injustice began pre-conception. It is in the DNA and blood shed of my great, great, great grandparents; those persecuted for practicing a faith that marked them as a threat to Christianity and the decline of civilization.
I am a survivor of the survived. To my ancestors who came before, I feel that lineage deep in me every day I look around and in the acts, deeds, and work I do. I am their work and I live their survival.
On this day of Atonement of Yom Kippur, I ask my ancestors and my friends for forgiveness. I am far from perfect. I have hurt people- too numerous to count and even more painful to own. I know I have flaws. I struggle. But I would rather wrestle in that struggle to deepen my ability to become more human each and every day.
I read some statistics today that connected me to my family's history -- and a detailed history I will likely never know--- those who came from Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Spain, France... .
The Transgender Monitoring Murdering Project reveals that "100 reported murders of trans and gender diverse people in 2016, which is the highest number in the first 4 months of the year registered by the TMM project since 2008. In total, the numbers add up to 2115 reported killings of trans and gender diverse people in 65 countries worldwide between the 1st of January 2008 and the 30th of April 2016, 1654 of which were reported in Central and South America." (http://tgeu.org/tmm/)
These statistics are alarming. It makes me wonder, do we forgive the people who believe the world should be rid of trans folks? And, for that matter, any person whose blood is shed by a murderer, who truly believes that the killing is justified in the name of some greater good?
I still don't know how to answer this. I do know that each time a person is murdered for an identity which is then justified by those whose "center" is threatened, I am forced to confront my own humanity and morality over and over again.
Ellie Weisel once said, we should never forget, but the greater question now for me, is how do and can we forgive such acts?
As I ask for forgiveness today from those I've hurt, I wonder too, how and can I do so when I/we bear witness to these continued acts of cruelty?