I’m heartbroken about the events of the last week, at a loss for words–at least the right words. But my mind is swirling with a hundred different thoughts. So, this may be a rambling post, but I’m going to write it anyway.
Some of us may not want to admit it, but we all have prejudices. Worse, many of us, including most of our leaders, are also bigots. I don’t mean to be name calling–I’m counting myself in this, and it’s a hard pill to swallow. But if you read the definitions below, I think you might agree.
It’s human nature to have prejudices–to make assumptions based on what we’ve experienced in the past. It’s safe. It’s easy. But rarely can an assumption about how a few people think or act be cast across an entire group of people.
And as far as bigotry goes, it too, feels safer–more empowering–to stick with those who think like we think. Who wants the discomfort and hassle of having to consider the “other side,” to compromise, to come to the center?
Yet, these “safe” zones of prejudice and bigotry have led us to fear, contempt and ultimately, hatred.
Where has it gotten us?
Nowhere. Except backwards and retreating deeper and deeper into our “safe” zones, which I believe is what led us to the tragic, horrible, sad, unbelievable events of the last week: police officers shooting and killing Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The sniper massacre of five police officers in Dallas.
My mind so exploded with questions of why and how I can hardly organize my thoughts. But here’s my attempt:
- Our bigotry–our refusal to consider the other side–has led us to a state of living in black and white. (Pun intended.) We’ve become divisive, as though there’s one right and one wrong. There are as many diverse opinions as there are colors, though we often refuse to consider them. A perfect example is people who get offended by #BlackLivesMatter or #CopsLivesMatter. One does not exclude the other.
- Our leaders have set the example, and not in a good way. If the men and women we elect refuse to talk to “the other side,” and infer or outright preach that those who think differently are either stupid or evil, by definition, they’re bigots. If it’s okay for them, why not for us?
- We don’t take the time or the risk to talk to those who are different from us. It’s “safer” to keep our mouths shut and hold on to our stereotypes. Too often, this means only those on the fringes voice their opinions, which serves to divide us more.
- We’re too easily offended.
- Social media has made all of the above worse.
We have a common enemy that’s on a path to destroy us. That enemy is hatred born of prejudice, and the fuel that feeds its fire is bigotry.
I wonder if, as we have in the past, we’ll unite against this common enemy?
I wish I knew the answers to all the questions in my head, but I don’t. But I do know violence is not the answer. And silence isn’t either.