Disclaimer: This may be a controversial post, but I mean it to help, not hurt. First, I do not condone or approve of violence in any way to solve problems, I love our country and even with all the negative things this election year is bringing about, I still believe it is the best country to live in. I also don’t know how to feel about the football players not standing for the national anthem, to me a lot of things have just become ritual that we do on the outside with no real feeling related to them. We do them so other people will look at us in a positive light, like saying grace before a meal. But that’s another post.
Oh…this is going to be long.
Can I just share a few things from my heart? This election is bringing so much turmoil into our lives and our country that I can’t even believe it, or stand it. People talk all the time about making America great again; they have to be talking about making it great financially again, or maybe they mean making us a strong, dominating force on the world stage again, or maybe they are just talking about how some people used to just be quiet and not stand up for themselves?
I also hear statements like, “We need to go back to what this country was built on: God, faith, and freedom.” Maybe we all need to be reminded of a few things. Our founding fathers did not come to America peacefully, just looking for a place to worship God in their own way. They came in violently. Just take a look at your history books, if you can still read about how we took the land from the natives. Why? Because we wanted it. As big as this continent is, you would think we could have found a way to live peaceably, or at least found another spot. The country was not completely inhabited with Native Americans. Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and say the early settlers tried to peacefully obtain land, but the natives were violent, what would you expect? People came from another land, who speak a different language and maybe they didn’t even know that other humans existed. I’d be afraid, too. We are afraid if someone “different” comes across our path. Just ask any Native American who still knows their true roots if they think we should go back to the way it was. Maybe before foreigners came.
Next, why don’t we talk about the slaves brought over from Africa? I know none of the people living today were slaves, they probably don’t even have any grandparents who remember being slaves. Maybe they have great grandparents or great, great grandparents who were slaves and they remember the stories they were told down through the years. I know that we, the people who live in America today, had nothing to do with the physical acts of slavery from 150 years ago and before. But there are those of us today who want to keep the spirit of slavery alive. I am not one of those people, but I know there are some out there.
Some people still look at other people and judge them based on their color. This isn’t something new, it’s been going on since the beginning. Well, since people started noticing differences in each other. I know there are a lot of people who say, “They need to just get over it, they were never slaves, we were never slaveholders.” Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person treats you like you are inferior, constantly calling you names and talking down to you? Have you ever tried to better yourself only to have that person keep holding you back, reminding you that you are not good enough? You can forgive them, if you choose to, but you can’t “get over it”, because it never stops. I’ve heard people say, “If they don’t like it here, let them go back where they came from and see how they like that.” Like comparing their situation here to a violent, poverty stricken place is going to make them feel better. Or like that is even a viable solution. The vast majority of people who live in this country today, came from here! That attitude is simply a form of manipulation, it is a way of ignoring the problem and refusing to be part of a conversation that could actually facilitate change. It’s rude, unkind, hateful and I’m ashamed to admit that I may have said similar things many years ago before I really understood.
When I was struggling in my marriage, there were people who said, “Why don’t you leave, go back where you were before?” Sometimes that is just not the answer. Sometimes the answer is getting to the bottom of the problem and working through it so both people can be happy. When everything came to the surface for me, I told my husband “I’m not satisfied with just not fighting anymore, I want good, and if we can’t have that I’m done.” I’m getting too old to worry about whether I am loved or not, or whether voicing my opinion is going to cause an argument. It took both of us to recognize the problem and both of us to work on it for things to get better. Neither one of us could make things better alone.
Maybe I can relate to people who feel oppressed, because I have felt it myself. Where I first experienced what I believe was oppression was in the religious world where I was treated differently because my parents were divorced. Then I was treated differently because I didn’t believe everything I was being taught, and I said so. Again I was treated differently because I didn’t like being a girl, because girls were treated differently than boys, in my opinion as if they were less than. Then in the business world, when I started working construction in a male dominated work force. Many men in the construction field in the late 80’s and early 90’s didn’t think it was a place for women and didn’t think women should be paid the same. I really did have to work twice as hard and do more work than my male counterparts to prove my worth, and even then I’m not sure I got paid the same as they did. Did everyone have the same experience as I did? No, there are a lot of women who can’t understand why I feel the way I do at all, and many who have said, “You just need to ‘get over it’ and move on.” They are right in one way, I need to move on, get past the hurt, acknowledge what was done and forgive. But no, I will never forget it. If I forget it, I will not be able to empathize with other people who still feel the way I felt back then, and sometimes even still do today.
So, what is the answer? I’m pretty sure I’ll get some flack from all sides on this, but I think there are many answers. One answer is that we need to stop separating ourselves. When we fill out applications the question comes up asking our nationality or race. We answer “I am black”, “I am white”, “I am Hispanic”, “I am Native American”. What if we just put down “I am human”? (It may come to that someday from what I am reading and hearing lately.) What if we stopped associating ourselves with our dividing lines of color and heritage? I know the government loves to put those questions there because, well let’s face it they need a certain amount “other than white” to be compliant. What if we just hired someone based on their experience and abilities and gifts without knowing what color they are, or what gender they are?
I’m not saying we should throw out our heritage. What I am saying is that you didn’t get to choose. I didn’t get to choose what race I would be. If I could have chosen, would I have chosen to be black? Knowing what I know today, honestly no I wouldn’t. I am also saying that your heritage is where you came from, but it doesn’t have to determine where you are going. None of us got to choose where we started, but we all get to choose what we do with what we’ve been given and we all get to choose what direction we go in. We just have to decide if it is worth the fight, to go against the flow. Is it worth the pain and discomfort it will cause to facilitate the change or would we rather stay where we are and complain? Most of us, if we’re honest, we want to see change but we want someone else to be or make the change and we want to enjoy the results.
Change has to take place in each individual’s heart, but it also has to take place in the larger groups. I have been to many different churches over the years and I have heard hate preached from the pulpits. Some “Christians” can be the worst ones for being bigoted. As much as I hate to admit it, some Christians believe they are superior. They talk about favor, and God protecting “His people”. Even when the hurricane was coming I heard people say, “God will protect his people”. We are all His people. We are all made in His image. Not just the white men, not just the one’s who have accepted what He has done for them. We are all God’s people. If you paint a picture of a god who only loves white people, or Jews, or even only those who have believed, you are peddling a lie! Jesus died for all humanity, because He (God) loves all humanity. He did it BEFORE we believed, so that we can believe.
I know this will probably help some people feel angry (because no one can make you angry), but I believe I have to say it. I don’t want to be a part of the religious establishment who does not want people to express how they feel, because it makes some of them uncomfortable. I’ve spent too many years in relationships myself that I did not feel comfortable expressing my true feelings because I felt afraid of the consequences.
I don’t believe violence is the answer, it only hurts more people and we need to stop hurting each other. I don’t think the answer is demeaning people by giving them more than they work for, it is only proving to them that we don’t believe they are capable. We are all capable. None of us needs to be taken care of (with the exception of those who are elderly, disabled or children), we can take care of ourselves if we are allowed the opportunity. We need to stop dividing ourselves with words like black, white, indian and Hispanic and start uniting ourselves by calling each other people.
There are so many things that each of us can bring to the table. As in any relationship, there are many people with different strengths, gifts, abilities and even weaknesses. Inside each of us, down through the generations, there are parts of our heritages that we can bring together and do so much more good. My stepmom came from a Polish family and she taught me to make some of the best Polish food I’ve ever eaten. My first mother in law was Native American and she could cook the best cantaloupe pie and for years there was no written recipe, it was just something she made up one day. My next door neighbor, Sam, was one of the nicest men I’ve ever known, when he passed I was truly sad about it. I went to his funeral and I was one of the few (maybe 5) white people in the church. I didn’t care. I respected that man, and cared for him. He was a logger and he was one of the hardest working men I know. Even when he was dying from cancer he would go out on that truck, because he knew it had to be done. There are so many other examples I could use of people of different nationalities and races, people I have come to respect and love; Leon, our friend who owns a Mexican restaurant in town, my friend Kathy who is Sicilian, and her daughters who are mixed Sicilian and black. I love them and am proud to know them.
I know there is hurt, and I know I have been complicit by not speaking out when I hear things being said that are hurtful. I am sorry for that. My heart is that we would all accept each other as people, and stop allowing our leaders, Christian and otherwise to keep separating us. We need to stand together, all as one; real change can’t come as long as we continue to be divided.
Food for thought:
Romans 13:8-10 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery”, “Do not steal”, “Do not covet”, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.