I read this article this morning that asked the question, “What do I tell my daughter about America electing a sexist, racist president?” My initial internal reply was, “Why, that is simple… just tell her we elected a leader who accurately represents the culture and foreign policy of America. And because of this, the American people will finally be able to confront their prejudices like mature, responsible adults. Because up until now, they have been behaving like adolescents; hiding from the hard cold reality of their situation and environment behind passive aggressive, politically correct rhetoric.”
Donald Trump has been elected President, thus racism and sexism will come to the surface. We are already seeing the most repugnant of our society using this as an excuse to act out their prejudices. There is no way to stop this. Even if there were some legal loophole that could turn the results around, the cat is still out of the bag and nothing will put it back. However, I am an optimist. I say bring it on. It is as natural in the evolution of civilization as the sun rising and setting, and ice sheets growing and shrinking. The only question is how to address this wave of prejudices so that they are resolved in our time and not just swept under the carpet for future generations to deal with.
We all understand that we owe a debt of gratitude to the soldiers who put themselves in harms way so that we do not have to deal with certain threats to our way of life. We know this because of the innate understanding that freedom is not free. However, there are many different types of threats to our way of life. Most of which soldiers, politicians, and police cannot protect us from. And yet, our passive aggressive, superficial, materialistic society spends so much of its energy taking videos of these threats and talking about it on Facebook as though this will somehow make it all go away. All we have done over the past forty years has been to look for a way to project our own responsibility onto someone else; onto some institution. Then the government responds by creating bureaucratic obfuscation because they not only do not want to be responsible, but cannot be responsible.
The police cannot end racism. Racism must be addressed directly in the moment, like Jackie Robinson.
A politician cannot end sexism. Sexism must be addressed directly in the moment, like Nora Ephron.
No law will bring an end to these issues. Laws can only bury them underground and out of sight where they fester and become the foundations of corruption. The only way we are going to bring these issues to a close if we each, as individuals, find the clarity and courage to confront them directly in our own communities; in our own behavior and in the routines of our own daily lives.
No matter how much we change the words we use, they will never change the attitudes of people. The only way to change the behavior of people, is to challenge their behaviors, not their words or ideas. Most people have no idea why they do what they do, and the justification only comes after they witness themselves doing it. Thus, most arguments of rhetoric and ideology are just defensive battles to avoid responsibility for past actions.
People are animals, and if we wish to change behaviors we have to confront and address these behaviors when they happen. If your dog poops on the floor, you don’t yell at him three days later. You don’t take a video and put it on Facebook and get everyone talking about it to try and shame them into not pooping on the floor. You grab him by the neck, drag him over to the poop, stick his nose in the still steaming pile and tell him not in the house. Similarly, taking a video of someone being sexist and talking about it on Facebook does nothing except invoke a defensive posture. Standing on the street and holding a sign about racism does nothing except train people to ignore you. To resolve these issues, we have to be willing to confront the behaviors directly when they happen and say, ‘not in my community.”
If you are riding on a public bus and see a couple of white youths harassing a Muslim woman, and you don’t want to live in a community where this happens, then you are responsible. You must put down your phone, get off your ass, and confront the situation. It is scary and risky to do so. You could get hurt or arrested, but it is the only way. … because freedom is not free.
But also, if we see a video of someone doing something stupid twenty years ago, we have to have the maturity to let it go and say, “OK. It is too late to address that now without invoking a blindly negative reaction, but we will keep an eye out for it in the future. Consider yourself warned.”
It is my opinion that we are coming to the end of the baby-boomer peace-nick bullshit delusion. The idea that we all can live in a utopia where everything is peaceful and balanced without anyone ever having to take a risk or confront an enemy. Utter nonsense. And, I am certain that this stage of development the point where delusion fades away and we must confront reality, has occurred many times throughout the evolution of civilization. And that is the crux of the biscuit. Evolution is king on this planet. Whether you believe God designed it or it emerged randomly, evolution is still king. And according to basic principles of evolution, conflict is our natural state, not peace. Peace only comes about in small periods now and again without us knowing how or why. Like a parent suddenly discovering they have the house to themselves for the night because all the kids are spending the night at their friends.
We are not all soldiers, nor should we be. But we all have to fight for the world we want to live in,a and that fight has to occur where we stand… not in some distant office.
Because freedom is not free.