Making Sense of Noise
The noise is overwhelming and requires some attention and sorting out. We see so much national chaos at this point that we are losing track of major issues and what they represent. There seems to be little in the way of careful examination of issues and origins and so many things are getting lumped into politics where people are trying to manipulate the public. The foremost example at this moment is the issue of racism. Let me clarify.
The title of this blog post is the key point and does not represent anything approaching an excuse. On the matter of racism what we must see is that racism is not necessarily anything political. We are all racists. That is a fact and let me explain my view.
Long ago I took a job in the impoverished inner city of Baltimore. Our staff was triracial. Innocently we began our work and very soon, in spite of our shared commitment, we felt the impulse to point fingers. I will never forget the morning after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Baltimore was in a growing riot mode but I made it to our offices. In the conference room sat the black staff huddled together. They looked up as if I was a stranger. By mid morning everyone was at work and we began to work to break down the barriers. Over time we dealt with fundamental truths.
How We Are As Human Beings
I’m going to simplify this because the issues and origins are, indeed, complex. Of all things humans focus on faces. It begins early when we are infants. Our survival depends upon attachment and we hold our family (our people) dear. The implications relate to the fact that we are tribal creatures and cleave to our own. That is universal.
I recall a trip to Germany and standing in a city in southwest Germany captivated by the women riding by on their bicycles. My wife’s father’s family had come from a nearby region. I didn’t know it at the time but part of my mother’s family had originated in that area as well.I was seeing very familiar faces deeply etched in me. Of course they got my attention and I was drawn in.
We have a lot of people of German origins in the United States and after World War II when we sent our men in to help Germany pull back together it was easier because of the number of German names and familiar faces. These and related facts must be stressed.
Culture and Familiarity
As humans we also carry culture and how we act and what we like and on and on draws us together—and apart. If our voices or ways of doing things are different, it sets us apart. Every day we attend to differences and how we respond. And much of this reduces our discriminatory responses and helps create what we call racism.
A Simplistic Complexity
It boils down to these and many other subtleties that bring some of us together and others of us apart. Every day we need to be aware of how we are as human beings which means that we each carry some form of racism. From that fact grows a lot of things but now it relates to what we are terming our political life.
My people emigrated here over 300 years ago and it is crucial that we all remind ourselves of our origins, why our families came here and that we need each other. Owning who we are and our inclinations for racism is crucial and it must be done daily. Let’s dim down the noise and make ourselves celebrate the success which is our immigrant nation. We must not lose what we have built. And handling our own racism is an ongoing personal job. Right now too many people (including many of our leaders) are sabotaging our integrity and future as they call out and utilize their racism for political purposes. Our future demands honesty, integrity and management of how we are as people.
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