Yup. A lot has been happening in our world. Reactions have been hot, hasty, and brimming with judgement. We as a nation conveniently forget that there are two sides to every story.
I am a well educated Northern woman. I attended colleges and learned the history that was presented to me. As an adult I also recognize that the history I accepted as fact was interpreted at some point by human beings. They set forth a record of events as they understood them. I respect the past and try to learn from it. Yet what I learn , the lessons I take away, may be radically different than yours.
Case in point: The Civil War. The concept of slavery is abhorrent to any who respect humanity. I was taught that the South wanted to keep slavery so they could keep their economic wealth. Thanks to the bravery of the Northerners spurred on by the great Abraham Lincoln, we triumphed over evil. Was there more to that story?
Absolutely. The South wanted the right to make their own decisions, and not have the North limit their right to self-government. In a union where all states are equal it is reasonable to rebel against an equal power imposing their will upon yours. As a member of our union, the South had a fair gripe. Many Southerners abolished slavery of their own accord, many plantations had white workers as well as black. Men of all colors and persuasions died for the liberties and rights we take for granted. The South had its share of men who fought bravely to defend their point of view. Though their side eventually lost the battle, it is only just that we recognize the sacrifices and heroism on both sides, that we strive to achieve a thorough understanding of all suffered in the conflict.
Our current social and political climate does not encourage inquiry. It feeds off fiery rhetoric and moral judgement. Judgement without understanding, however, is not only flawed but criminally ignorant. Egos must be pushed aside, and our ears and hearts opened. We as a nation will never find peace amongst ourselves until we make an effort to consider things from perspectives other than our own. We need to demonstrate respect for each other and respect for individuals that hold alternate opinions.
Spewing venom or using principles of violence to support your viewpoint is unacceptable. It tears the fabric of our social construct while accomplishing exactly nothing.
President Trump is under fire for not choosing a side to condemn during recent events in Virginia. Instead he called on all to assess their own behavior. “How could he?!”, the outraged cry, “He needed to condemn the right,” etc. etc. I vehemently disagree. It was a wise decision to approach the matter as the president did.
This event was a perfect storm. What started the ruckus? The removal of Confederate memorials. If your ancestor had earned a memorial for past deeds, and then a new person judged that memorial inappropriate, you would most likely be upset. It is an effort to rewrite history. The right applied for protest permits for a peaceful demonstration. Permits were granted, and they planned to peacefully express their viewpoint. The right and alt-right are two different factions. The KKK and white supremacists (again, differing groups) saw this as an opportunity to foster their own agenda, which they perceive as pushback to Black Lives Matter and other Liberal protests. Anti-Fa of course jumped right in to enforce their own position, which, although they are the ones carrying weapons, arriving masked and promoting violence, includes the idea that they are somehow an anti-fascist group.
I admit that to me, here is where things get muddy. The word Nazi itself is a shortened form of national socialist. The liberal groups are much closer to the socialist viewpoint than the right wing or conservative groups, but if you are white and don’t espouse a socialist viewpoint, then you are a nazi?
Labels, names, titles etc…There are so many personal grudges going on here that it is nearly impossible to separate them. The black faction is using the race card. So are many whites in defense of the current accusation of crimes of “white privilege” . They are in a defensive position, equally unwilling to subjugate their own race to current demands of reparation etc. Feminists are adding to the melee whenever possible. Everyone loves to accuse the president of pretty much everything. Extremists love to go where the controversy is. So you do have actual white supremacists and some truly heinous personalities added to the mix. Then you declare a crisis and choose a side to blame, the military escorting one side out of the confrontation and instructing your forces to stand down against the other side, which is shouting F the police and threatening everyone although the original demonstrators are no longer on premise. Add in a media circus and voila! Are we really surprised that death wriggled its way into this arena?
Who should we be pointing fingers at? All of us. Every single one who posts inflammatory rhetoric and shares ugly posts on Facebook, every one of us who feels our moral position innately superior to the opposition. Lack of inquiry and reflexive spewing are ruining our country. Name calling, witch hunting, aggravated angst and drama, the ridiculousness of our media coverage, sensationalism everywhere. Look in the mirror. Have you added to the frenzy?
SHAME ON US. Blacks are not superior to whites and women are not superior to men and anti-fa is not superior to the far right and you are not superior to your elected officials or police force. Nor is the converse of any of these statements true. The individual is reigning while the majority and group are suffering. Find common ground. Common ground is our strength. Stop thinking about YOU all of the time and begin to think about US again. Think of what we achieve when we, with respect for our individual differences , work together in a positive way for the benefit of all.
We all have the power to smooth the waters. We carry skills of communication, thoughtful discussion and respect. We can encourage the good without feeding the evil. Deprive this fire of oxygen and be a responsible citizen that no more lives be lost due to ignorant fury. Embrace patience, kindness and generosity of thought and deed. Teach our children and model behavior we wish them to emulate. Consciously choose to be a force for peace.
I am not condemning your social or political ideals: I celebrate them all. We need to talk, to share, to learn. I welcome open dialogue, and want differing opinion. None of us own the truth- we merely see a piece of it. If we are to live to know the whole, we must work together. We are more than separate viewpoints: we are humanity.