Posted by: susanideus | January 9, 2011

Speaking in Purple

When someone asks me why I’m wearing a purple ribbon, I’ll tell them that red and blue make purple and that women united can make a difference against viciousness. ~Mary Sojourner

This is a plea to all my sisters out there in cyberspace. Buy some purple ribbon as soon as possible.

I just read an article by poet and Tucson resident Mary Sojourner that touched me to my core.It spoke sense and calm to a troubled soul.

Ever since yesterday, I’ve been distraught and distracted by the senseless shooting in Tucson in which 6 persons were killed and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was among those 14 others gravely injured. It shook me profoundly that these random acts of violence are becoming more commonplace and they are looked upon by the perpetrators as a justifiable way to call attention to a cause, as a way to right a wrong, real or imagined. Earlier this week, several persons were injured by mail bombs in Maryland. What, a letter listing grievances isn’t sufficient? Guess not.

That’s the point. The rhetoric has become so contentious and vicious that it is commonplace. The extreme has become the mundane. If someone shouts long enough and loud enough, they will be tuned out. Or worse, they will encourage others to shout with them. Shouting to be heard, shoving to get a place at the table–what is accomplished?

We’re not listening. We’re divided by opinion. Opinions on issues that were NEVER meant to be partisan. Does the child of a Republican deserve less to have health insurance than the child of a Democrat? Does a soldier from a red state deserve more support than one from a blue state? Do we ask the political bent of a homeless person before we help them? Preposterous, right? Some issues are human issues, quality of life issues, decency issues.

I’m not really trying to be simplistic here, but the last time I looked, we are all human beings, regardless of political party, belief system, religious philosophy, economic status, or sexual orientation. Of all of the animals on the planet, the human race is the one uniquely equipped with verbal communication.

Verbal, folks, as in talking. What has happened to reasonable discourse, polite conversation, and above all, listening and consideration of that heard?

I worry sometimes that we communicate so much by means other than face-to-face that we have lost the ability to discern intent and mood and innuendo. Cyber-speak can include emoticons but rarely are they used when it counts. It’s difficult sometimes to discern whether a Facebook post or a Tweet is merely sarcastic or deadly serious. And when something “goes viral”, do we always check the source and veracity before we further spread the word? Instant communication can be mesmerizing, can it not?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m online a lot. I love the positive aspects of Facebook–finding old friends, keeping up with the people in my life, and sharing ideas and thoughts I’m drawn to. Rarely is anything totally bad. But like all that is worthy of attention, sometimes moderation and just plain common sense are called for.

I know we’re all looking for answers in this crazy world. It’s been tough going for some years now and we don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel. We have legitimate concerns. There are many decent people out there trying to effect change–and there are also charlatans and charismatic figures and extremists making all kinds of promises and pledges that seem too good to be true. Both have followers and fellow believers. It’s hard to know what to believe when you’re desperate or jobless or discouraged or hungry or broke. But nothing will be solved or fixed or made better as long as the viciousness and name-calling and hate crimes continue. We’ll all end up cowering in corners or lashing out in the most horrible unspeakable ways. It has to stop. We have to stop it.

So, here’s the thing. Sojourner suggests we blend the reds and the blues into purple. We stop thinking in red and blue and we think in terms of humanity. That’s not so hard a concept, is it? To tone down the rhetoric and to begin to listen without the party and political filters in place–and to remember that the person across the aisle (or down the street) is as uniquely human as each of us is.

She wants us, sisters, to wear a purple ribbon, and to share purple ribbons with others. To share our commitment to measured, calm, sensible, studied communication. To listening. To hearing what is said. To working together as fellow human travellers on this troubled earth.

As is often the case, this may seem like a solitary endeavor. But what if we touch each touch just one other person, what if we change one mind, or at the very least, cause one person to really think about what is going on?

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Sojourner further suggested that we can use the same cyber system of communication to spread the word about purple. We can do this, sisters. Wear purple. Share purple. Think purple!

It is time again for women to take a lead and it is the same cyber-connections that can be put to vicious use that can spread the message. ~Mary Sojourner
(Purple ribbon image from: )


  1. […] […]

  2. “To share our commitment to measured, calm, sensible, studied communication. To listening. To hearing what is said. To working together as fellow human travellers on this troubled earth.”

    Thanks for writing this, and for letting me know about the purple ribbon on Facebook. My nephew’s wife has reposted from my repost of your post. All we have to do now is put action behind our words.

    • The ribbon is only the beginning. I just want people to start thinking about not only what they say but how they say it–whether face to face or online.

  3. Oh Susan what a profound post. Since I worked today I haven’t had any exposure to the latest news out of Tucson – but I know that yesterday’s news was at least in part what kept me awake much of last night. You have articulated so many of my thoughts in your post. Wearing purple…sharing purple… spreading the word to the world around us. YES!!! I’ll be sporting a purple ribbon now and asking my friends to do so as well!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Lee. Anything to spread the word. We need to regain civility. I’m not against freedom of speech. On the contrary, it’s a great privilege, but with privilege comes responsibility.

  4. What a great idea. It’s a visual statement to my longtime plea that we all have to learn to play nice in our planet’s sandbox. I’ll do my part to spread the idealistic goal. Purple has now become my favorite color.

    Pat Bean

    • Thanks for helping to spread the word, Pat.

  5. I share your concerns and feelings. I will add the purple ribbon – I knew there was a good reason why it has always been my favorite color – combine the red and blue – it should be a battle cry! Let’s win back our humanity. Many hugs, sister

    • You are so right, Ronnie. Let’s just treat one another as fellow humans. No one deserves less than that. hugs back!

  6. Purple it is 🙂

  7. Susan, Thank you so much for giving voice to this topic. You wrote it so beautifull, and lovingly. I am right there with you. I want civility to come back into favor, rather than entitlement or whatever. I want us all to remember that we are all from the same creator, whatever we call Him/Her. You are a woman who lives your beliefs, and I am proud to call you friend. Love Hawk

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