After taking a look at a news story this morning, although what compels me to still read the news I couldn’t tell you, I was overcome immediately with the feeling that today wasn’t a day to be thankful for anything. In fact the story I read insinuated I should be quite the opposite: ashamed of myself and maybe a little afraid for my life. As a white male in the United States I am apparently one of the biggest threats around today. Even if that’s not what Don Lemon was inferring, from the standpoint of syntax, that’s exactly what he said. Now, I understand a couple things about what I read:
1. This is one man’s perspective and he binds that perspective to the chains of his own experiences.
2. This hatred and fear mongering seem to be cyclic throughout all ethnic groups it just depends on who is currently getting the limelight. A flavor of the week is picked and off they go.
3. Regardless of what allegations are packaged up and thrust upon whatever ethnic group IS the flavor of the month, people can, and will, recover and most times move on.
Yet it still troubles me that this need for stereotypes is even out there and this one is possibly gaining ground. It’s also troubling that this man is using a nationally syndicated platform to share it. Yet I will process this information, attempt to glean any possible lessons from it then go back to work, to play, to my family etc.
For that matter it’s pretty upsetting to me in general that stereotypes exist in the first place. We seem to have become a species who’s survival is quintessentially tied to the attempted subjugation of others based on the trivialities of physical features. Please don’t confuse that phrase “physical features” with ethnicity, heritage or traditions. AJ recently pointed me to something Bill Nye said a couple years ago and I truly wish more people would accept this line of thinking that race is a human construct. We are all people. I firmly believe that people, in this case as Americans, should not only have the right to practice what their families or people have been doing for centuries or even millennia (I’ve spent the last sixteen years in service to my country in hopes that my small contribution will keep that going), but should be able to do so without having to in fear of bigoted retribution. While there do exist rotten apples amongst the bunch, the whole tree shouldn’t be burned as a result. The heartwarming aspect of this is our overall ability to recognize adversity or ignorance, label it for what it is, fix it and move on.
The more I thought about Mr. Lemons words the more I was able to peel it back and understand I COULD be thankful for this perceived egregious attack on what boils down to biological circumstances. I can be thankful for what it has to teach me. We can all be thankful for it. In this moment I am reminded that no matter how volatile a person’s speech may be, no matter how inciting the message, we will all collectively continue on. We can and will learn any inherent lessons and hopefully we will one day come together as a global population, finally free from the ignorance that perpetuates cultural divides and accept each other as HUMANS.
So today i’m thankful for the enduring and resilient power of the human spirit, both independently and globally. I have known quite a few people personally who have fallen victim to some fairly severe physical and emotional tragedies in their lives. Somehow, based on the simple human desire to feel whole and not live a fractured and disassociated life, they have struggled their way out of the muck and flourished into beautiful seedlings. Similarly, entire cultures have been disenfranchised. Some horribly so, over the course of human history and have still found it in themselves to come out the other end and move forward. Im thankful for that.
We’re not given the detailed roadmap before birth so we have no way of knowing where the potholes are, where the soft shoulders exist or where the bridges in our lives may become structurally weak; yet at some point we blow tires on jagged roads, we find ourselves in ditches because the road gives out or we find ourselves trapped in our cars, bleeding and afraid after the collapse and most somehow manage to struggle through the necessary repairs and get back on the road.
I’m thankful today that while some people among us appear hell bent on spreading deceit and skewed representations of an entire ethnic group based on the actions of a few, we are still able to press on with life, seek out and find happiness and break through the poisonous soil being tamped upon us.