|Some ideas belong in the trash|
Staying on the Titanic but determined to create as many bubbles as possible, all the way down.
Sometimes this is the feeling I get as I read the newspaper, check online sources, or just listen to some people talk. It is as if there are a bunch of folks, crowded together on the upper deck of that failed ship, denying reality as long as possible and then shouting defiance as the waves close over their heads, sending a last blast of bubbles as the only reminder of their presence.
Being on the wrong side of history is not difficult. Most of us have been so at one time or another. We thought Beta tapes were the way to go. Apple will never compete with Windows. No one needs a phone small enough for a pocket. The Beatles won't sell many records.
Those are the normal human guesses about the direction of history or at least the small parts that intrude into our life. But, I have been thinking about a much more consequential misreading of history. This is the one that attempts to take society back, back to what we misremember as a gentler, more predictable time. This is the history that wraps itself in a gauzy sheen of forgetfulness, of never really noticing what was wrong. The real problem comes when this warped recall of the way things were is used to justify some horrible behavior now.
I suggest we are seeing the consequences of this attempt to rewrite, or "clean up" parts of our history. Take the controversies over various statues or flags, for example. The Confederacy was an attempt to not only break apart the union of states but to enshrine slavery as a permanent part of the culture. One must be pretty obtuse to not understand the Confederate symbols, flags, and statues are symbols of a hateful system built on the misery of other humans. To claim it is part of someone's heritage isn't something to be celebrated or perpetuated, it is something to discard in the trash heap of bad ideas.
In a hard-to-miss insult, U.S. military installations are named after Confederate Generals, men whose purpose was to defeat the U.S. military. What possible sense does it make to name a place after someone who wanted everyone wearing that uniform to die? Why would the current president fight so hard to keep these names? The answer is politically obvious.
There is a statue (just removed) of Teddy Roosevelt in the lobby of a New York City museum. Our 26th president is astride a horse, while a black man and native American (Indian at that time) are walking alongside the horse. The message of white superiority, of the horror of Manifest Destinty upon those who were here well before us, of the conquering hero, is unmistakable.
Of course, the protests and focus on racism continue. After 155 years, we continue to find ourselves confronting those who hate, oppress, denigrate, or simply ignore the concept that the Constitution makes rather clear: all men are created equal. And, yes, I haven't overlooked the irony of the "all men" phrasing that was a product of a male-dominated culture that kept women from full rights until almost 100 years ago. Equal pay? Sexism? Still a fight that continues today.
As I have mentioned in an earlier post, as an older white male I can't possibly understand the fear and intimidation that those with different skin color than mine endure every single day. Black children must be taught how to react when stopped by a policeman, react in ways that would never be part of a similar set of instructions for white kids. Being ignored, attacked, or otherwise made to feel less than human? Part of their life.
Yet, I do believe that this time, the obliviousness of too many of us is changing. In a nation that claims to be Christian, why has it taken this long to understand that Jesus was a dark-skinned man, likely Arab, and not a white man? That he meant it when he said to love your neighbor, all your neighbors, not just the ones that look and think like you. If that wasn't his message, then he is not speaking to contemporary white America.
God demands the poor and marginalized people of any society deserve our full support, love, and help. Proclaiming oneself to be Christian yet treating blacks as inferior, is pretty damning evidence that you have missed the point.
Those who continue to insist it is their "right" to wave a flag of hate, to want to hold down a race of human beings who are a different color and to insist that things were better in the "good old days" are on the wrong side of history. If you want us to go back to when everyone knew the rules, stayed in their place, and accepted things the way they were, your days are past.
But, apparently, you are not going down without a last blast of bubbles.