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Shields up — Gun Ports Open

We are getting a lot of reaction on Astrid’s first person post.  You can read it here. I just reread it and I believe the positive reaction is because her post comes from love, not hate and anger. It’s so easy to criticize and show your anger. When I asked Astrid to write the piece, I told her to only write what she saw, not what she heard from others. Its so easy to get caught up in the agendas that fill us all. She did a great job.

It is much easier to criticize than to be positive. It is said that the reason most movie and theater reviews are negative is that writing 17 inches of negativity is easy, writing 17 inches of positive thoughts is hard.

It has become popular to use terms like The racism, intolerance, and hate prevalent in our communities and  Let’s be uncomfortable as we discuss topics like white privilege, bias, and fear.

As I read these posts from companies large and small, I see them in two lights. First I know it comes from the heart, but I feel it paints with a broad brush and stokes the very fires they are trying to quell.

As is reread these blogs I couldn’t help thinking about where we have come from in our fight for social justice and freedom for all. When I was born just after WWII, the thought of a black president was laughable. The idea of having a black as head of a fortune 500 company was simply not on. The concept of blacks and whites marching together in the streets was incredible. And a black billionaire, you have to be kidding. Jim Crow was how life was. There were people alive who remembered the civil war.

When I was in the Army in in Columbus, Georgia in 1968, the white officers lived in nice apartments near the base while the black officers lived out where the pavement ended and you dealt with ‘colored’ real estate offices. Who would have thought that a black could be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

Today, when I go to see my cardiologist, that fact that he is black doesn’t enter my mind. When I meet CEOs of parking companies, I’m not surprised when they are a minority. I have to think about it to remember who is black, or brown, or yellow in my neighborhood. There are many of each. Not to mention the gay couple at the end of the block, or the young families of all colors whose kids play together in the streets, or the single mother with the two young girls next door. And don’t forget the retired folks who can be a bit grouchy when the dogs bark too much but smile at the kids who are just a bit too noisy.

By the way, lest you think I live in some small city somewhere, be advised that I live in the heart of Los Angeles, probably the most diverse city in the world.

It is difficult for me not to be angered by the quotes above. They talk about the prevalence of hatred and I’m sure it exists, but I don’t see it in my neighborhood. Are there people I don’t like, of course. But it is because they are jerks, not because of their skin color.

I hear over and over that “you just don’t know what it is like to be black in America.”  I can only imagine how one feels when they are the butt of racism or hate based on skin color. Except that the paragraph above makes me too the butt of racism and hate. It paints all peoples with the same brush. It gives no quarter.

When PT was described as racist, I apologized, fell on my sword, and actually spoke to some of those involved. I was prepared to learn. The problem was they weren’t prepared to teach. They were prepared to lecture. I asked a few questions, got no answers, and that was that.

The active discussions must be open on all sides, not just yours or mine. If we go into the conversation with our shields up and gun ports open, there is no point.

JVH

 

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4 Responses to Shields up — Gun Ports Open

  1. Joe Sciulli says:

    Points well said, and well taken; but let me to add to your last sentence, if I may: “If we go into the conversation with our shields up and gun ports open – and don’t recognize the battle we’re in is a spiritual one – there is no point.”

    If the last 100+ years have taught us anything, it’s that we’re in a spiritual battle of good versus evil. And being a spiritual battle, only one weapon will prevail: prayer.

    So, pray for those who’ve had years of crime, jail and drug abuse. Pray for cops hardened to the pleas of those they apprehend. Pray for the conversion of the anarchists and their underwriters who exploit others’ pain for their own goals. Pray for those who let themselves be exploited. Pray for our country, for freedom, for peace through conversion of hearts.

    To borrow from a John Lennon song, Give Prayer a Chance.

  2. JVH says:

    Joe: I agree that Prayer is an option and a good one, but when people are sitting down to discuss a problem, one must have an open mind and be able to listen. If we take our prejudices into a discussion, lead with ‘I’m right and you are wrong’ nothing get accomplished. My experience is that if we let those in the discussion simply talk, they will show their true colors. A dialogue that focuses on listening rather than talking is needed.
    Both sides need to come to the discussion with open minds. After what we see over the past week or so, I’m not optimistic.
    Best
    JVH

  3. Tom Wunk says:

    Joe and John:

    This is such a hard topic to address as we all tip-toe through the field of PC eggshells. If we work with a person of color or a different race, do we feel comfortable chastising them for poor performance or congratulating them on a job well done – solely on the merit of their work? Or do we consider their biology? When we hire for a position, do we address legislative guidelines to achieve quotas or hire the best applicant? It seems the more we are pressured not to judge someone by the color of their skin or the heritage, the inverse occurs. Not too long ago, before the Covid intrusion, I had an opportunity to attend a elementary school graduation and I recall that prior to the actual ceremony, all the kids – all races and ethnic background, were milling about; laughing, listening to music, dancing, and enjoying each other, oblivious to the world which would soon consume them. Looking back on it, I wonder if we could somehow extract those kids, hold them in isolation for 15 years, teach them simple economics, and let them out and let them run things.

    In the meantime, do we discard common sense to assuage guilt available on-line 24/7? Do we somehow have a sociological ‘reset’ and start anew? For me, the answers are elusive as grabbing a handful of air. The event in Minneapolis was horrible and no amount of words can possibly describe reasonable a ‘why’. Much like Germany beginning in the late 1930’s, Wounded Knee in 1890, Rwanda in 1995, or even to a 30 month old baby terminated here in some hospital in the United States – I can’t help but wonder how we have become so ‘selective’ in what we determine to be worthy of our outrage.

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