March 21, 2015 by Jan Stone
I wonder if our country’s Founding Fathers, although I know they were white men, looked to form a more perfect union because Britain was as narrow minded as our country has become? It’s harder than ever to determine history’s truths. Every hour we see opinion reported as “news,” and it’s not a leap to presume it will one day be recorded as history.
On March 8, The New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow wrote a moving piece, “Obama and Selma: The Meaning of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ reporting on the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma, what’s happening with voting rights in 2015 and the outrage in Ferguson, MO. It doesn’t sound like our country is regressing. It’s evidence. Here’s the op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/09/opinion/charles-blow-obama-and-selma-the-meaning-of-bloody-sunday.html?alg=4L7F8.
On March 19, a panel on Fox News and Friends covered and supported a story about white parents who condemned the way a Virginia Orange County school handled Black HIstory Month. Here’s what one of the mom’s said:
“Students started coming out on stage saying things like, ‘I’m from Ferguson, Missouri. I was told to put my hands up. I did and I was shot seven times. My name is Michael Brown. I immediately realized that this was not something that was a good idea for my daughter to be seeing.”
She said she was taken off guard when her daughter asked why police officers shoot black people and good people. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/fox-black-history-month-lives-matter. For those who don’t click on the link, she’s still awaiting an apology from the school because she doesn’t think her daughter should be exposed to those kinds of truths.
The same stories abound for immigration, gender equality and other issues where the single commonality is white men and occassionally a well vetted white woman pronounce their racism and bigotry under the guise of “truth” and “news.”
I recall when my youngest was in grammar school (at the start of the 21st century) and her class put together a series of reports for Black History Month focusing on the brave men and women who risked their lives to peacefully protest racism. Parents were asked to read them and comment on the folder. I wrote something like “I wish this month didn’t have to exist.” I didn’t and still don’t mean it because I’m a racist. My greatest prejudice is against ignorance, and I’m well aware that is as absurd, unreasonable and futile as any other prejudice. Intolerance is like kerosene. It stokes preconceptions and doesn’t allow clarity of thought or action.
Intolerance for those who hold different opionions and belief that one race is better than another are characteristics I personally find abhorrent. I’m a white woman and all too often I’m ashamed of many white men and women whose sense of entitlement exist without education, empathy or experience.
We live in country created with a constitution promising life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We know now those promises were created by white men for other white men. We don’t have to look further than how they handled Native Americans and stories about the Middle Passage to get the gist.
The world works best when we embrace each others’ differences, struggle for compromise and allow empathy to guide us. When I was young, I was taught those were the values of religion. Now many in our country judge different religions with the same intolerance as race and gender. I wonder more often than ever if it isn’t time to blow up the precepts that guide this country today and start anew, blind to race and culture, guided by compassion and intelligence.
How naïve this must sound. But tackling issues paralyzing our country using the rules our Founding Fathers first established are exercises in futility. Except perhaps for that first lesson children learn from mom: The Golden Rule. Many incredible men and women have and continue to change the world for the better with that as the foundation of their morality. Evolution doesn’t seem to be working well. Maybe it is time for revolution.