I told my friend I admired and respected him very much as a Christian, father, husband, and community leader. I did not intend to offend him, but asked him to be blunt with me about growing up black in Mississippi.
He was blunt. Blacks do not receive the same respect whites receive ever. He gave me several personal accounts of encounters. Even though I’ve heard similar accounts for years, I’ve never heard them spoken with such fervor tinged with anger. It was personal. It was real. It was true. I felt his rage.
We agreed racism has always been a problem and always would be a problem. But, the solution is not simply “just get over it.” Racism runs both ways. Blacks and whites are racists. All races are racists.
Last week several black men were killed after encounters with police. Then a black gunman murdered five white police officers in Dallas, TX. National media is covering all the protests. Talking heads blame and quote statistics to make and break debates. All sides are talking past each other, and no one is listening. People are too angry to listen.
Nobody cares about the damned statistics. Many are deciding they’re not going to take it anymore. It’s another hot summer, just like the summer of 1968. I was a sophomore in high school. The court ordered Corinth High School to consolidate the city’s separate but equal schools.
The 1960s had already been a turbulent decade. Through news accounts I had witnessed weekly body counts in Vietnam, assassinations, and urban riots of epic proportions. The Democratic National Convention was literally a riot in 1968. The very nature of politics and government divides people into groups.
Politicians have manipulated Americans into diverse #HateGroups. We all identify more as a member of this or that group than as Americans. At best, we’re tolerating other groups until we can’t take it anymore. At worst, we’re at war with ourselves.
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence racial turmoil is overshadowing pandemic corruption at every level of government. #HateGroups are playing politics. Neither politics nor government is the answer to our divisions. Politics and government are the leading organizational roots of our divisions.
Whites believe we’re better than other races. This is called ethnocentrism, and every ethnic group feels this way. Of course, there are individual exceptions, so don’t feel too offended or self-righteous. Ethnic groups have always felt this way and always will feel this way. Only self-righteous people deny these natural biases.
The Bible speaks of a time when people got along swimmingly. Then God confused the human race with diverse languages. We’ve been at odds with one another ever since.
Humankind’s problems are not due to our differences. We’re all the same inside. We are spiritual beings living inside physical bodies. Every one of us rebels against our Creator. Each of us wants to be master of his or her own fate. That is the root and source of all our problems.
The plot of history is humankind’s bent to self-destruction. Given enough time, we will self-destruct. Until then, we all need to live together as peaceably as possible in spite of our differences. We are different in many ways, but we are the same in the most important way. We’re all humans. All lives matter.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville, Miss. He can be reached at [email protected]