Hate is easy; fear is easy.
If you believe in the devil or any other inclinations toward evil, today there are great tools for them. Start with ignorance, and build on emotions and shallow thoughts. The next thing you know, someone has done something stupid and it’s the top headline.
I wrote the other day about pigeonholing people. Pigeonholing is a great foundation for hate and fear; if you never see anyone as an individual, but always as a member of some cliché, then it’s easy to react—especially if you’re an idiot. Those whites! Those blacks! Those cops! Those millionaires! Those immigrants!
I’m going to get pretty direct, so if your ego is fragile, maybe you’d better change web pages.
My father was a police officer for over twenty years—retired as a lieutenant; he didn’t talk about it beyond close family, but even though he was required to carry a weapon on duty and off, he was proud—yes PROUD—that he had NEVER fired his weapon except at the target range throughout his entire career. Never.
That is the attitude we need. My father had his biases and flaws—as do we all—but they were never expressed through a weapon. When he shared that with me, I was awestruck. He’s a hero, at least to me.
On the other hand, if your ego is so fragile that an insult makes you respond with gunfire—you’re a wimp; you’re a pathetic, insignificant little wimp.
How do the rest of us move forward? We need to present ourselves as civilized, responsible citizens. We need to act without fear. Why? First, it’s the right thing to do. Second, it’s who we are. Third, it’s being recorded on video somewhere by someone and will be on the internet ten minutes from now.
Yes, some of us will get screwed. Rosa Parks got screwed. Dr. Martin Luther King got screwed. Emmett Till got screwed. The Jews, Romas, and a variety of others during the Nazi regime got screwed. Mahatma Gandhi got screwed. Malcolm X got screwed. Caesar Chavez got screwed. If you or I get screwed, what a great team to join!
So, how do we avoid getting screwed? Let us all commit to seeing every other human as an individual, every day. Let us try to accept that individual as they are; if we cannot we will not ascribe their attributes to others who share some random similarity.
Today, we need to draw the line. Like the movie “Network,” we need to say, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Then we need to reach out to one another and build on what we have in common—what binds us. That is what makes us strong.