“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
This latest musing was prompted by the plethora of hate and vitriol that we all hear on a daily basis, especially towards people of another color, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual identity. It angers, frightens and saddens me all at the same time to realize the depth of human depravity that can still exist in the world. Following a recent news story that literally made me sick to my stomach I turned off the news stream and began speaking out a stream of consciousness that invigorated and encouraged me. Maybe it will do the same for you.
we completely changed the narrative – if we changed the basic foundation that all of our differences spring from.
we started from a mindset that racism no longer exists – that black, white, all of us – were truly equal. Judgments aren’t made based on the color of our skin. Everyone is accepted the same, we all have the same expectations of fair treatment and opportunity.
we viewed all ethnicities, culture and religions from the lens that said we are different but the same. We are uniquely gifted with diverse expressions of love and faith. Our food, clothing, rituals and observations make up a colorful, vibrant whole.
we stopped having to be right. Stopped having to force everyone we meet into one of our definitions of social norms. Stopped thinking we had the definitive, final say on how others should live their lives.
What if this was the basic foundation of belief that we all lived with. That all of the bias, prejudice, and preconceptions were gone and we start from a place of acceptance, dignity and freedom.
If that was the norm, it occurred to me that extremism of any kind could not be the norm. When someone spewed out hate speech in a public arena, the normal people would collectively rise against it. When people of another culture were physically or verbally attacked simply because of their culture, the normal people would come to their aid. Anywhere behavior, speech, activism, writing or individual actions went against the norm, the response would be swift and unified. Intolerance would no longer be a bad thing, but would represent an alliance forged in charity, love and unity.
We already see this in some pockets of resistance. We cry for victims of senseless bombings, we agonize over a radicalized individual of any kind whose hatred escalates to the point that they feel justified in taking another’s life. But each of those actors represent a part of society that should never be accepted as the norm at all. And if we flipped the switch – if bigotry did not exist among normal people – then those who represented hate, intolerance and fear would be marginalized into not-the-norm.
I realize this is an esoteric concept, and I am probably not explaining it with great clarity. But, I for one, am tired of the rationalizations and excuses for things that just shouldn’t be. I can’t help but wonder what if ….