Be careful of absolutes. It’s probably the only positive concept I learned working in corporate America for a few years in sales. The basis of the concept as it relates to business is working towards attainable manageable goals and in turn can be applied to most things.
They say every great journey begins with the first step. I agree. If you want to travel the world, you need three big ticket items: a passport, a ticket and some money. And of course a positive attitude. That’s it. But people make it out to be a bigger thing. It is not.
When I was 20, I wanted to live in Maui, Hawaii, the windsurfing capital of the world. I was a chef at the time in a seasonal restaurant in the Hamptons, and worked alongside two others who also wanted to move to Hawaii. On the same day both bailed on me. In the morning and the other after lunch. Fear drove them. Me, I drove myself home making two on the way. One, at a travel agency where I purchased a one way ticket to Maui, and a tattoo parlor where I got my second tattoo. Again, change is simple, it just takes steps.
Running is like that too. Anyone can run. Our first steps look more like a run that a walk. Yet, as we age and move further away from those steps, we start to make running into more than it really is. So again, to become a runner there are a few steps. Buy shoes that fit. Don’t run too far or too much, too soon or you’ll get injured. Especially with what is available on line, becoming a runner is easy.
Some problems are more complicated and do not have attainable solutions. Pi is one. Homelessness and racism are two others. I am not smart enough to tackle pi. I know circles exist and I know their measurements produce an irrational number. Not my field of study and certainly not how my brain works. Homelessness and racism I ponder often.
I remember being in Denver, Colorado and passing a parking meter with a sticker on it saying End Homelessness. Im theory it’s a great idea but that’s as far as it can go. End is absolute. There are no absolutes. No matter what safety nets and personalized help is provided, there will always be some who fall through the cracks and others who choose to be or to remain homeless. I am okay with that as long as anyone who wants a home is provided the support and tools needed to live, manage and thrive in one.
Racism is similar. Trying to End Racism is like trying to cure Evil. Most certainly want it but just like the child taking steps that look like a runner first, that same child is taught to see the world through the lens of similarities and differences. This starts almost immediately and builds a deep foundation.
From almost day one children are indoctrinated into their familial systems and customs. We are taught that our religion is religion is the religion of truth. We are fed foods that are aligned with our history and when we suggest or identify something outside the norm, we are told it is gross, disgusting or wrong. This does not build the foundation of a tolerant society. It builds one that allows most people to define themselves in comparison to others.
Racism is the worst form of that. Having a belief that something as superficial as skin color has any bearing or truth in quality or ability to succeed. It is a lie. Anyone who is not a racist, knows this. However, how many people think their religion is the only path to heaven? Most. How many people think their native foods are better than others? Most. It’s familial, foundational and as the world becomes more connected, really scary.
I am a lazy Catholic who has lived in Christian parts of the US that view Catholics as outsiders and i have lived in nations whose primary religions are buddhist, hindu and muslim. In all of these places I have met my fair share of cool people and some whackos. I have survived and thrived because I enjoy new experiences and am tolerant and accepting of others and their differences.
Most people are grossed out by eating bugs in Cambodia or alligators in Florida or snails in Morocco or dogs in Asia. All living creatures killed to be eaten. By no means are they normal American fare. But they are normal for their perspective cultures.
So what I am trying to say is Ending Racism is an ideal that may in time be achieved. In the meantime those who spew hate and believe their way is better than others need to be reminded that there are some underlying characteristics of all humans. We all have culture and family traditions that we love. It doesn’t mean that mine is better than your. It’s just different is all.
Wars will be fought. They are simple, they are about power and greed. They are a violent transaction between nations. But they end. Racism, as an undercurrent to a society, just makes a society that is sick. I won’t judge you for your differences. You may want to rethink peace, hope, joy, happiness and love if you judge me for mine.
- All works at Observations from the Spectrum written by Dylan Netter
- On? a third point of view – book of Essays
- Marinehippie.com podcast w/ Docstodden.com – dialogue exploring politics and musings of life
- Horizoncoaching.org – English Tutor and Guide
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