My friend, who is gay, wore a puzzled expression. “Why do you have a safety pin on your shirt?” she asked me. “It’s intentional,” I told her. “It means that you’re safe with me. It’s a signal to you that I will not treat you with unkindness because of who you are, or for any reason.” She responded with a big smile and a warm hug.
Displaying a safety pin on one’s clothing began as a response to the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, not necessarily as a protest of his election but rather as a silent way to communicate kindness, a signal to others that the wearer does not condone racism, sexism or misogyny, which were brought into dominance in the president-elect’s campaign speeches. One person told a reporter that she wears a safety pin as a form of resistance to hate and negativity.
The trend is spreading, mainly through social media, although large newspapers, including The New York Times and Washington Post, have carried articles about it. The Times’ article raised the concern that some of Trump’s supporters might use his election as permission to harass or abuse immigrants, minorities, females or people who are gay. Unfortunately, this is happening in some places. As a response, wearing a safety pin sends a message that the wearer is willing to defend the vulnerable.
Wearing a safety pin also serves to remind the wearer how to act. One truck driver, quoted in The Times’ article, agreed with this, saying it reminds him to defend those under attack and not to be a silent witness.
Response to my safety pin has thus far evoked only smiles and an occasional spoken word of thanks. I hope it begins to encourage others to wear safety pins, too.
Today’s word: Life becomes richer when driven by giving, rather than getting.