Today’s thought is a bit different than other Thursdays. For today I am going to attempt to put into words my own thoughts and feelings about this weekend’s Charlottesville events.
Perhaps you feel like me, that you NEED to say something. Your feelings of shame, bitterness, anger and sadness over the events are so jumbled and mixed into so many of your core values that words to express these feelings must be there, and MUST come out, yet somehow, they don’t. Its okay, you don’t HAVE to.
My gut tells me that sitting with your feelings and understanding why you have them, and deciding what to do with them is your and my lot.
For many there is whole clarity in knowing that your values clearly disavow any acts of bigotry and racism that have occurred not only now, but in the past. The problem arises when trying to distinctly define those words and what they mean in any given case.
Perhaps, like me, you struggle with the concept that in America today it is perfectly legal for American hate groups (of all kinds) to exist. And to not only exist, but are protected by First Amendment rights to the free expression thereof those hateful feelings and thoughts.
That somehow where other countries have specifically banned such rhetoric and symbols, we here have so embraced such a liberal interpretation of this law that it includes protections that our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers fought and died in terrible bloody wars against.
This post is not meant as a catalyst for discussion over the tenants of First Amendment rights, however. While that is certainly a valid debate, this post’s intent is more about healing of the mind and soul.
Perhaps, like me, you are wondering how in the world are we even discussing the concepts and history of a war that occurred almost 150 years ago??? That there is even a debate as to its meaning! How can anyone even entertain the trickery of the “states rights” debate over the war? Can they not see the blatant cover-up that argument holds?
Let alone we are still dealing with the scars and wounds from a second war that an entire world fought, that created more human casualties than any other single event in the known history of our world!! HOW do we even have to face this? The horrors of that war are KNOWN! There is no discussion as to what those thoughts and actions did to humankind!
HOW we are STILL dealing with people’s belief that Blacks, Jews, Catholics, Free Masons, Native Americans, LBGTQ, or Foreign Born Americans are somehow inferior to any other human? This isn’t even a debate!
Perhaps, like me, you struggle with having hate in your own heart for people who have those beliefs. Your, like my, core values deplore hate of other humans. We are about LOVE dammit! I can honestly say, that for me, while that struggle is real, it is much less than it once was. Humans are humans.
But RC, does that include the people of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and all the rest of the differing factions of hate that seem to be in our world? Yes. Hate actions, beliefs, words, thoughts, misguided feelings – those things can have hate directed at them. Though, even there, hate in your heart is like a disease, and it will creep into so many things and you don’t even realize it. This is not some naïve thought, look at it in you. Does hate help, or does it infect?
Perhaps, like me, you struggle with this whole monument and “southern heritage” thing. How many monuments are in your town? Why are they there? What do they really represent? Should they be taken down too? How do we reconcile statues of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and Madison – all slave owners in their lifetime with those of other individuals? And while one MAY be able to forgive Washington, Franklin and Madison for seeing the errors of their ways later in life, what do you do about Jefferson, a slave owner till death?
Understanding history, of course helps. Being one who has been to all of the Civil War battle fields in his lifetime, and seen many of these monuments located in other areas including multiple visits to Stone Mountain, I can tell you my own acceptance of these places has now given me pause. I still DO believe that there is a place for such things on Civil War battlefields, to me that is a place of history learning.
However, Stone Mountain? The carving of which was initiated BY the KKK? While it is quite the achievement of human craft and ingenuity, HOW in the world did we allow the likes of traitors to this nation Davis, Lee and Jackson to be the giant depictions upon this huge rock in the middle of nowhere? For 50 years the task went on.
We didn’t take care of all this years ago, and it was left to sit and continue to simmer on the back of the country’s moral stove. I can understand this, as so many things seem to occupy our collective minds. Wars, jobs, economy, and other “moral” initiatives seem to pop up daily. The loss of Lincoln and his vision certainly did not help. Other blunders through history and the lack of strength to tackle the hurts all around have left easy minority targets continuing a fight that should have ended after so many battles. If only it were all that simple. It is, and it isn’t. Our “collective identity” has been muddled since the country’s inception.
Perhaps, like me, you struggle with the “lefts” side in all of this. What about the violence “they” cause/initiate/do?
The “alt-left” doesn’t really exist. To be certain there are Anarchists and anti-fascists among the left, but they themselves do not identify as the “alt-left”. Alt-right is even a term self created by its users to deter the other meanings that it embraces. They know themselves full well that terms like Nazi, neo-Nazi, White supremacist, and White nationalist have deeply hurtful connotations, so to make it better, they invented a new word. Of course if there is an alt-right, there has to be an alt-left, correct? The answer is no there doesn’t!
What is lacking in the case of poor choices in actions by far left and far right people is a clear condemnation by their political leaders. Hate speech like “kill the cops” needs as clear “not acceptable” message as “Jews will not replace us.” The leaders we want to speak up clearly have failed to consistently do so. This leaves us feeling empty, and does not help our quandary.
To be sure there may be more thoughts and feelings on all this that churn in the hearts and minds of us all. I am just identifying my struggles in this, hoping that you find this helpful that you are not alone in your strife. This is not an exhaustive list that may surround last weekend’s events. Take your time and sit with it all and see where you and your thoughts and feelings are. Forgive yourself if it takes time, this stuff is NOT easy.
Here is my warning, however. Soon, we will start to focus on this wondrous natural event called the Eclipse. It IS an amazing thing. It DOES deserve your attention due to its rarity. But as I have said above, let us NOT forget, and let go of this momentum that has occurred over these issues. This is what we have done SO many times in the past. Forget this, as the “next thing” so wants us to do.
Healing does take time. This is NOT a division that seems acceptable to most of the country, by a long shot. Let’s not fall into more division over this. We have enough dividing us. Let’s stop the “what about them” and really deal with this, and put to rest the inferiority thing once and for all.
And if you, like me, feel the desperate need to say something, then let it out. On paper, on the internet, in a document, you don’t have to post it, but it might just help. I hope my own thoughts that have been vomited out here help you.