Hello Good People.
It’s getting dangerous out here in the muck and mire of the present electoral climate. And there is a powerful disconnection trap that people seem to fall victim to with increasing regularity. When the question is asked, “Are we more divided than ever?” opinions run from wild despair to completely without a clue. It’s getting to be a hard place to live.
We are not, as a nation, students of history. Most people, when asked, will say “I hate history!” as if the entirety of the human record of existence were some distasteful TV show or some food they hated in childhood.
People seem not to understand that they, perhaps, hate the way history has been taught. By saying “I don’t like history!” they immediately indicate their lack of discernment about the importance of knowing what frames your past, present and possible future. That would include the events that created your place in your community or family.
And that certainly takes in the events that have preceded our present list of challenges in the areas of civil rights and those who have
Take for example, the subject of Dr. Martin Luther King. People love to remember Dr. King as school history lessons too often frame him…standing on that stage, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, saying “I have a dream!” They forget that the beginning of that speech was an indictment of America’s lack of commitment to its own stated principles. Too few people heard or remember those words of critique. And few remember that he was subjected to nonstop, relentlessly focused hatred in word and deed for the length of his tenure at SCLC. His house was bombed. According to domestic violence attorneys, his family harassed and phones tapped by the FBI! This hero’s life was a living hell, with the abuse coming from all sides. Even many of the folks who were working for the same goals found him wanting.
Still, through the maze of resistance, he persevered to lead marches where thousands came out to jeer and scream racial epithets. They threw rocks…one hit him. He was stabbed! He was roughed up and thrown in jail.
With all of that in the past, he is now revered, by most, as a saving prophet of positive change, Harmless and “kindly” in the light of more challenging leaders and more digitally vibrant times.
We, in our own personal need to make sense of the world, too often tend to remember and frame things to fit our vision of how we think things should be. But the struggle for civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ and First Nation rights, (so amazingly highlighted by recent events over s pipeline) have all been secured, to the extent they have been, by struggle, protest and, in many cases, death.
This is the legacy that we embrace if we are to be truthful about where we are as a nation. Are we divided? Clearly we are!
Our words of anger fly past each other at inhumane speed. And we share our angst with each other in pixels and loud ungracious emails, fueled by the raging rhetoric of the talking heads.
In candidate Donald Trump, we find a particularly interesting example of how a person with a seeming scant regard for history, can completely get framing a present situation wrong. Faced with nearly nonexistent positive numbers in the African-American community, he has, on the advice of his campaign management, embarked on a series of ill-fated “reach out sessions” to the community he so steadily defamed. And as one who had failed to speak out against past injustices or denounce the efforts of the KKK and other hate groups to support him, he blithely lurches forward into encounters with groups he has very little knowledge about. Yet, disregarding his scant historical acumen, he has sought to visit churches so that he can tell them how much he truly cares about their issues.
This week alone, it came as a shock to him, when he invited himself to a church in Flint,MI, promising to show gratitude for their efforts in addressing the horrid water crisis of national disgrace. After being welcomed and given the opportunity to speak, he ended up trying to make it one just more campaign stop of criticism and angry stump speech-making.
Rebucked by the pastor, Rev. Timmons, a proud black woman, he later recoiled by lying about how he was received and placing the blame on the pastor for his actions. Such ridiculous and insensitive conduct will not go very far in closing the gaps that exist between he and any of the communities he has spent a lifetime defaming.
Speaking out to reject hate and changing the actions that work to divide is our only way to truly creating unity in this country.
Dr King had a dream, but its still not yet a reality. We’ve come a long way and we’ve got a mighty long way to go!
Onward into the light!