“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
~ Edmund Burke ~
If a person is standing on a box making an empassioned speech and a thousand people are gathered around listening intently, we call that person a leader. If a person is standing on a box making an empassioned speech and no one is gathered around listening intently, we call that person crazy.
It’s not the person on the box that has the power.
If you watch 24 hour news you may feel like I do. Our country is divided and at times it feels like we are close to anarchy. Hilary is a criminal, Trump is an idiot, cops kill blacks, blacks kill cops, racism is rampant, reverse racism is rampant, every Muslim is bad, every Christian is bad, hate, hate, hate. It’s easy to feel like everyone is a victim, that we are powerless to change anything, and that we have no hope in finding leaders capable of changing anything. But the person on the box is a liar.
The good news is that not everyone is bad, the situation is not hopeless, and most important, we don’t have to listen to the person on the box. Set aside the bias that has been fed to us as bias is often just following for the sake of following and it can be blind to the things that matter the most to us. Seek information, facts, knowledge.
If you want to choose the best politician to effect the change you feel is needed, turn off 24 hour news, sit down in front of your computer and do your research. What are the issues that matter most to you, foreign policy, domestic policy, education, health care, the economy? Use the time that you are not spending watching and reading 24 hour news to fully understand the history of these issues as well as the people involved, their motivations and agendas and the solutions they offer as well as the solutions of those that oppose them. Then choose the person that is most aligned with what you feel is the solution. If we want change then we must choose people that will affect that change rather than just a party or ideal.
It’s the same approach to understanding those that are different from us. We can discount them because they are different, but I can gaurantee from experience that we miss out tremendously when we do that. I spent some time a while back with an older black gentleman that lived in Birmingham, Alabama during a time when racism meant something more than being disgusting and offensive. It was often deadly and at very best it was oppressive and inhumane.
I had done some research before we talked so I would have a bit of background and could ask intelligent questions. He was kind and patient and helped me understand that time in history. I learned from him what it was like to be a black man in the south when basic human rights weren’t afforded black people. That was his life and by talking to me about that time, I gained a tremendous understanding I could not get from someone that had not lived during that time. Oddly, I thought, he wasn’t bitter toward white people at all. He has known truly bad people, and he has known truly good people. He impressed upon me that the color of a person’s skin is never an indicator of either. His son is one of my closest and most loving friends. He and I have talked about our differences in culture and customs and we understand each other. In the end we found more similarities and because of that we better appreciated the differences.
If you don’t consider yourself a racist and want to understand someone from another culture or race, talk to them and learn about their life. Seek understanding rather than judging what’s on the surface, or by experiences with others. Everyone is an individual and while customs or common circumstances make groups of people similar, they are not all the same. I have black friends that were raised to hate white people but they set that aside and chose to measure me as an individual. I know other people that treat me badly because I am white and feel fully justified in doing so, yet they believe it’s wrong for others to do that to them. I also know plenty of white people that feel justified with their prejudices of others, until they meet someone different from them and get to know them and end up liking them. It’s not just about black and white, it’s every race, every lifestyle, every religion. It’s about people that are not like us.
Racism is ignorance, and ignorance is not confined to any one group, it’s a human failing. We are all responsible to overcome ignorance by educating ourselves and understanding others. That’s the only way racism, no matter who it is directed at, will go away.
I was born in Canada, Ana was born in Brazil. There are massive differences in our cultures and customs and some of those differences created problems in our relationships at the start. I was doing things that disrespected her as my girlfriend, yet I had no idea I was doing it. She was creating mis-trust by doing something she thought would strengthen our love, and had no idea she was damaging it. We could have walked away, and on the surface, we would have had all the reason in the world to do so. But chose to understand each other then adjust. I understand my culture and hers now and my life is much richer now because of it. Most of all because she is in it. When I think about what I would have lost had we not looked beyond the surface, I cringe. I can’t imagine life without her.
We work to do the same with people from other cultures and races that we meet, provided they are willing, and as a result we have a very culturally diverse group of friends. That diversity has made life so interesting and exciting. People are fascinating when you’re not afraid of them.
I know how ridiculous and weak prejudice and ignorance are. Children aren’t born with predjudice, fear, anger or division, someone has to program that into them. In my case it was family and the community and the time in history that I was born into. I educated myself and overcame the ignorance that was taught to me as a child. I now measure people on their character and nothing else.
Some see ignorance and prejudice as an opportunity.
News is a for-profit business. If people are happy they don’t sit at home glued to the news. They enjoy their lives and when they do that, news outlets loose advertising revenue. For the news business to be profitable people need to be frightened, they need to be angry, they need to be divided, there must be rampant injustice or the perception of all these things. Anarchy is very good business for a news agency. Anarchy is how news agencies keep their owners and investors happy. If there is an accepted perception of rampant injustice and anarchy, those that profit by it can buy nice things and go to nice places in greater luxury.
I get a raw news feed from Reuters, a news gathering agency, for a business we are involved in. Raw news means that it’s just the story gathered by a journalist that abides by the ethics of journalism. They have no bias or opinion woven into the story. They gather and present the facts and thats it.
News outlets buy raw news from agencies like Reuters then writers from those news outlets weave the story as they wish according to their bias or agenda. It is then delivered to consumers on their platform (TV, Website, ghost sites, etc) I have read a raw news story on Rueters then looked for, and found, the same news story on a number of outlets. The core facts were the same but each story had been given a different spin most certainly intended to strike a chord with the people programed to have a particular bias. The people that were standing around the box listening. Those stories fanned the fires of anger, hate, fear and division. The liberal channels were spun to connect with liberals, conservative channels were spun to connect with conservatives. As we all gather around the box of our choosing, we are fed what will keep us angry, afraid and upset.
Don’t confuse that with informed or equipped to make an independent decision.
Whether it’s a friend, or a news outlet, that’s how the person on the box works. Their purpose is to ignite your passions so you blindly follow and the more that do, the more power that person on the box has.
Knowledge has never been easier to access than it is now and if we fight the urge to simply absorb whatever the person on the box has to say, we can make better choices for what is best for our lives and communities. Bad things and bad people exist, there is no question, but there is far more good in the world than bad.
If we all stopped listening to the person on the box and either listened to, read or told a story each day about someone or something good, the truly bad things and people would be more visible.
If we did that maybe the shape of our world would change. Maybe others that saw so much good would pattern themselves behind those examples. Maybe we we should have the power to make our world a better place rather than someone on a box with an agenda. Maybe leaders should focus on the things that need doing in our country rather than making us angry, afraid and divided. Maybe leaders should be unitiing us rather than dividing. We have the power to make that happen.
Maybe that’s how we make America great again, by acknowledging the greatness is already there inside each of us, especially because we are not all the same. Maybe if we understood what the country needs by educating ourselves and understanding better so we know which are the important questions to ask our leaders and then we can make our deicsions based on the answers offered.
Maybe that’s what the founders intended for us. That we be free. All of us, no matter our differences.