Archive for December, 2014

I probably shouldn’t be writing this, any perspective I have is no doubt built upon “unearned authority”; but I can’t help it, because the heart of the issues lying in the ashes of Ferguson remain unaddressed.

Many issues have reared their ugly heads in Ferguson. The issues dominating the airwaves and the public psyche did not begin with the death of Michael Brown; they began long ago, in a more primal form. It is this beginning, this genesis, which has sadly been forgotten while we rail and shout at TV screens.

The real issue is often overlooked and rarely spoken of. It is as the saying goes, for every finger you point there are three more pointing back at you. There may be many symptoms of America’s racial dilemmas but there is only one core from which they spread out…the human condition.

The human condition includes the propensity to be fallible, to be blinded by passion or hate, to side unquestioningly with those who share our commonalities. But who has been speaking about the human condition? Who has pointed out its inherent faults? But truth remains silent while hatred and sadness pour out of Ferguson and onto our TV screens.

What we have heard is who to blame; and everyone else is to blame, but not ourselves. We couldn’t possibly bear any blame, all of our excuses are lined up in a pretty and neat row.

We live too far away, why should we care? We’re not racist, but all the people we disagree with are. We don’t judge people by the color of their skin but everyone else is judging us by our skin. People are judging us based upon our socio-economic status. People don’t understand what it is like to be us. People are judging us on our ancestral history. It’s an institutional problem, a law-enforcement problem, a race problem, an economic problem. The media doesn’t tell the true story, the media has an agenda.

All the answers are in our hands, aren’t they? As long as we’re not to blame, it’s all okay, we didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not us, it’s them.

But it is us. Racism isn’t something that died with Civil Rights or with electing the nation’s first African-American to the White House. Racism doesn’t discriminate, it’s tendrils of darkness threaten even the most honest and loving of persons. The history of plundering and ignorance is not something confined to the past, nor does it reign exclusively in a particular segment of society.

Everyone likes the part of the truth that makes us feel better, that justifies our position; we don’t like the part that implicates us, which is why members of all sides fling vitriolic words designed only to cut and divide. It can’t be us. We proclaim the truth, we seek true justice but those who oppose us are blind; the only feeling the other side harbors is the utmost hope for our continual degradation.

So now the paradigm has shifted, we no longer seek excuses for our ideas and beliefs, we now excuse our speech and actions. We believe that by pointing to America’s bloody past, we can justify our present and future bloodshed. We proclaim “property damage and looting”, that violence in general, has been an important “tool” in our respective “social progress”.

Merriman-Webster defines progress as “the process of improving or developing something over a period of time” or “gradual betterment; especially the progressive development of humankind”. Could

anyone consider the ashen skeletons of buildings, the rampant terror and fear on the streets, the torrential downpour of schismatic dialogues and hateful speech, to be anything but the opposite of ‘social progress’?

America the violent…America, the land purged by blood. It may have been who we were, it may be our heritage, but it doesn’t mean we presently have to stoop to our history’s lowest common denominator. We could be better; but alas, we’d rather speak of how ingrained racism is in the American identity, of how impossible it is for it to ever die out. We could love, forgive, and express understanding but we would rather our “side” be justified; we’d rather be right than righteous.

Some say we need only to obey or fear the law when the law upholds justice and order, but the heavens will shake when the law fails, for we declare ourselves righteous enough to cover the sins of our destruction of the physical and the spiritual. We are justified in our anger and rage, because the end justifies the means.

We declare this is the America generations past and present have shaped and molded, they have created this monster…as have we. Then, we are arrogant enough to turn around and say that we do not have the will or fortitude to change our ways, we do not have the right to hope. And so the cycle continues, new hope will find no home here; we have become pariahs to our own creeds.

Perhaps we do have no hope, perhaps things will never change within our lifetime, this lifetime marred by injustice and hate. But as time continues to pass, will things naturally get better on their own? Our forefathers of freedom, of every color, had more reason than us to believe in the absence of hope but we arrogantly think our time is worse than theirs.

We do not acknowledge our ability to have our present civil discourses of shouts and defamation are completely dependent upon their sacrifice.

Hope is indeed earned, it was earned by women and men who fought for a better future. They fought against bigotry, hatred, and violence; but they didn’t win by force of arms, a physical victory will always become temporal. They won by changing hearts and minds. Many did not see the fruit their labors had produced, but they had hope and it was enough for them.

Violence, hate, slander…all of these will continue, there won’t be a day where division will stop trying to rend the common bonds of humanity. For as many who fought for the rights of humanity, there were as many to oppose it. Does that mean we give up, that we allow anger and hatred to win? We might treat hope as the stuff of fairytales, but they never did.

What right do we have to let the dreams of those before us die? Is their hope, not enough for us anymore? They bled, suffered, and died for a dream of a better people in a better world. They fought for the future, but we can’t see beyond the haze of our anger and self-righteousness.

They deserve better. The future deserves better.

We could discuss what needs to be done, we know the truth, but sometimes we don’t want to face it. We don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want to be a part of the problem. Do you want to be able to deflect the blame, or do you really want to fix the hurt, heal the scars, and fight in common brotherhood? Do you really want to fight the evils of the human condition?

You know the answer, I pray that we all desire to find it. Now is time to be better.

With the utmost love, respect, and hope,

An American