Okay, let us start here. The modern world is jangled, or as Bob Dylan once wrote, “Tangled up in blue.” But that is where we are. And where are we? In a place where we fail to use our analytic powers. We listen to “smart people” tell us what to think. So, stop, and start thinking. If conclusions flow from assumptions – examine the assumptions. They are often false, especially around “race.”
Does prejudice exist, of course – since time’s beginning, Except if not learned or thoughtfully untaught. Do skin tints differ, of course – as only God sees fit to paint us, all in His image. Does race often align with family habits, cultural, tribal, geographic, ethnic, and religious differences? Yes, but not always. You see, skin does not define us, even if it may incline us to one or another choice.
And there is the key – choice. Most of life is about choice, not the color of skin—pull on that thread. If skin color is gift wrap, habits, culture, tribe, life pursuits are choices. Race does not determine who we are, except in our minds.
Wait, you say, but if I am black, the reactions of others can affect the ambit of my choices, in turn, my success. If others look down on me, expect less of me, or simply summon irrational dislike for me – parroting learned prejudice, then choices in my circle, in turn, chances of success, are more limited.
True, but go again to assumptions. BLM – like a similar, violent group by those letters in the 1960s – assumes race relations are static, that rather than teach equality (and assume God-given equality) between individuals, we must assume such understanding is out of reach, not possible, and do as Marx did, move to “equity between groups” which is promoted and measured by material leveling.
We are told to define ourselves not as individuals with equal potential in a nation striving to help us realize that potential, seeking to assure fair conditions for all (e.g., anti-discrimination laws, teaching respect, believing new understanding possible), but a shortcut: Redistribute resources – from one group to another – and think that fixes things.
Even assuming the worst pockets of prejudice, it does not. Rather it blocks the sun, replaces a chance for equal respect and dignity with government-pushed leveling of material position or outcomes (leaping to material equity, as if what lies between inequality and equality is just dollars).
In a way some find hard to accept, this misses the vital step – teaching, believing in, providing opportunities to prove our equality, skin aside. In a way, we have all missed the boat; imagining material leveling solves the underlying problem – false assumptions about skin-deep differences.
Race relations in America are complicated by objective factors, including geographic, cultural, economic, and crime demographics, which reinforce (on both sides) the idea of immovable inequalities or prejudices, suggesting equality is not worth reaching for, prejudice impossible to change.
This false assumption is tied to opinions long held by one group about another, intergenerational habits, more false assumptions. The problem is not just clutching past prejudice but passing it forward. Again, the assumption is that prejudice cannot change – and that is wrong.
Why have so many Americans unlearned prejudices, or rejected them, to fight in military units as tight and true as born brothers, stakes high? Or to solve big problems in civil society? Or in various parts of America, look past race to define neighbors by other differences, similarities. Do you see what I mean?
So why – and who – promotes the false assumption that equality of every born child is not entirely possible if only conditions or opportunities are presented to each equally? Answer: Those who benefit from silencing that idea, or using it as a foil to promote another, more personally (or emotionally) satisfying or profitable idea.
And who is doing that? In the white community, those who hold prejudices – that must be unlearned. In the black community, those who see value in sustaining a grievance culture, which benefit not equality among individuals, but themselves – materially or politically.
Put differently, ask what happens to every wealthy BLM leader, every political firebrand, if we pivot to equality of opportunity, people as all the same, teaching love not differences, emphasizing what we have in common as Americans, versus seeking money to settle past (re-elevated) race-based wrongs.
Ask what they really want – enduring peace and harmony, love and brotherhood, a lasting end to prejudice, making it a thing of the past, or benefit of an issue, money and emotional satisfaction of unending grief continued attention, money, prominence? In the quiet of the night, think on this.
What is the truth? What assumptions can we count true and reason from? We are all equal in God’s eyes. That is a good start. And how do we teach that? By pushing differences, big money settlements, collective and intergenerational guilt, resentment, anger, riots, group mentality? Or the reverse, truth of equal people, equal respect learned and then practiced, common mortality, that we all bleed red should center ourselves on ideals’ positive pull, not the negativity of difference?
We should – in a phrase – bleed red, white, and blue, not black and white, turn off the resentment, turn on love of humanity. You may say that is trite. But all the progress toward the ideals represented by our flag stems from belief in that ideal, stumble as we do toward it.
Progress comes from positive people teaching hope, rewarding those who learn it, not tearing down the miracle – true miracle in human history – of a place like America.
Yes, we are a bit jangled, divisions pushed by those sure they can get us to accept false assumptions. Do not accept them. Do not imagine equal opportunity is impossible or that race defines us.
Use the God-given gift of analysis, your feel for what is right. Trust yourself, and in that process, lift the dialogue. Rather than tangled up in blues, we can choose. That is why America is special. We are more than people of varying skin colors; we are Americans.
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