It came as no surprise to me that clashes between white separatists and those offended by their ideologies resulted in violence, including the death of one ‘counter’ protestor. Before I continue, I am also aware of the two police deaths associated with the helicopter crash. All three of these deaths were unnecessary and a most unfortunate side effect of our collective failure to recognize our common humanity.
Violence begets violence. I am against it until and only until my life or those of my beloved are under real and obvious threat.
The current climate in Charlottesville and other places around our country is one of competing ideas, differing views about our history, and the basic sin of pride. It is important for everyone living in the United States to understand that we are a melting pot. Except for truly Native Americans, we are mostly a large, sloppy, and slow accumulation of immigrants, arriving through many generations of hopefuls who saw and see America as a promise of new and better lives. This is exactly what and who we are.
But lest we forget, some of us did not come of their own free will. Most obviously that would include the African slaves, but also Irish and other indentured servants escaping persecution both political and religious. This is who we are, and immigration continues through our southern borders…the present influx of Hispanics, who, for the record, are mostly also Native American…seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. They cross artificial/political lines based on wars won and lost.
As each wave of immigrants comes into our country, ‘we’ benefit from the willingness of these eager workers to start at the bottom of the ladder. To put it simply, our infrastructural land and cityscapes would not exist without this influx of cheap labor over time. This advantage is not lost on the industrialists, the agri-business empire, all the way down to any of us who needs a maid or yard man. Every time we shop at Walmart or our local grocery chain store, we are buying low-priced produce partially based on that cheap labor.
Pride is our downfall. We, all of us, have more in common than not. We work hard, we raise our kids, love our families, we want time and space to enjoy our lives, to pursue our goals, and to find real meaning somewhere in the middle of all of that. We NEED one another in order to make sense of our lives. To suggest that we are not equal in these pursuits is vain, destructive and limiting. What we miss by not freely associating with those whose cultural identity is different from ours is enormous. We have so much to share, to learn from one another.
From a biologist’s point of view, the human family is actually one race. This is a true fact, not an alternative one. Many will dispute this, but in terms of what ‘race’ actually means, we are one: black, yellow, red, white and blue. It is time for us to discard our prejudices and look deeply inside of ourselves…do we choose hate over love, do we choose anger over calm, do we choose working together or working against one another? Life is hard enough without these costly choices.
Making ‘America Great Again’, Trump’s clarion call, has a ring to it. The word I find questionable is ‘Again’. What does that mean, and to whom? The United States is, historically, a young country, still an experiment, kind of like a teenager. If we are to succeed, remain strong on the global stage, to offer moral guidance internationally, we must be strong together here at home. We must resist the temptation to move backward in time, but instead to look ahead. We must replace personal pride with American pride. Let’s put hate in a box and bury it once and for all.