WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT: Equality is a Beautiful Thing
South Nyack, NY.
With a nod to Thomas Paine, these are the times that try men’s souls,* It seems for years now, despite the occasional periods of economic boom and prosperity, we have been facing enormous challenges. We are slowly but surely destroying our planet, evidenced by the extreme increases in the world’s temperature. Many would argue that there hasn’t been a political schism among us this vast since the Civil War. School shootings, mass murder, and mayhem have become so common as to now be part of our regular vocabulary. We still send our sons and daughters to foreign lands to fight seemingly endless wars. Immigration is not fixed, nor is healthcare. We’ve lost our standing in the world as a bastion of freedom and solidarity. And, racial divisions seems as contentious and potentially explosive as they’ve ever been. So, despite what a misguided Administration sells as Make America Great Again, there seems to be little, if anything, great about us right now.
And, if that hasn’t been enough, we are being faced with the enormous challenge presented by a deadly, pernicious foe known as COVID-19 or, the Corona Virus. It has taken a vicious toll on America and the entire world, not only physically and economically, but emotionally and even spiritually, too.
But, as I’ve written before, if we play it smart, care for one another, and not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed, we may not only survive but find new and better ways to live.
One of the positives that I have seen come from our latest struggles is a re-awakening of the role that race has played in this Country from its very inception. I will spare you the facts and figures that support my claims that minorities have been shit on for far too long. I know it and YOU know it, too!
And, it’s finally coming to a head.
Statues erected in a different era with a mindset that lacked little if any awareness of the real person behind the marble or granite image have got to go — SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS TIME. The image that was once Christopher Columbus is now KNOWN to be TOTAL BULLSHIT. This is no insult to the Italian-Americans who once hailed him as a hero. This is the REALITY of the man. And, if you know the image to be false, why would you oppose its removal from a place of honor — that he DID NOT DESERVE?
The same can be said of the removal of all statues venerating Confederate Civil War figures. They are NOT heroes to be admired. Seen in the clear light of a new day, they were traitors to their oaths to OUR nation, AND supported the enslavement of their fellow man. So, again, I ask what is it EXACTLY that people find admirable?
In addition, ALL symbols are created in MYTH. Therefore, they are often seen as untouchable or, as the actor Tom Hulce playing Mozart says in the film “Amadeus”, expected to shit marble. Mozart was making a point that admitting their vulnerabilities shouldn’t make them less admired. In fact, it should make them more so because it makes them human.
However, we as humans tend to fear change — especially if we are comfortable in our ways. And, that generally means white privilege, a term that many white folk resent. It’s true that most people, me included, were not born into families of wealth and position. We proudly declare that no one gave us anything. We earned EVERYTHING we have achieved by the sweat on our brows and the strength in our hands. I am no different.
However, we belong to a system that gives us every opportunity to take that chance and make something of ourselves. Unfortunately, that is not exactly true for all of us. People of color continually find themselves on the short end of the stick in housing, health, education, employment, and incarceration — so much so that it often seems like the hardly exist.
In response to that void, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was created. It may have been organized as a direct response to the disproportionate response of the police towards people of color, highlighted by the choke-hold death of African-American Eric Gardner (and, almost countless others) by a white police officer, but has now morphed into a broader movement towards overall racial equality in our society.
And, many white folk, particularly those ardent supporters of the police, have taken exception. They counter that Blue Lives Matter because the police regularly risk their lives in the service of others. Or, that All Lives Matter in attempt to show compassion for everyone.
But, they miss the point.
Acknowledging the struggle of minorities in no way diminishes your own. It simply addresses the need to put out the fire where the most damage is being done. Working to repair a wrong that has been festering on these shores for over 400 years is not to be feared or condemned. Oh, no, my friends. It is to be encouraged in every way possible. Nelson Mandela once said, a Nation should not be judged on how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest one.** This should be the very foundation of our society.
Perhaps, a sign that I saw draped over a porch while I was walking in my little hamlet of South Nyack, NY says it best:
So, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, until we are ALL equal, none of us are. Yes, when Black Lives TRULY Matter, ALL lives will — blue, black, brown, white. Equality is a beautiful thing.