I originally published this post with a reference to a headline I read that claimed: “all white people are racist”. I included the source article, links, images, etc. But upon reflection, I chose to remove all that information because it was the exact issue I am writing about here – spreading a racist message. I cannot be a participant in that.
To say I am saddened by that headline doesn’t come close to my sense of despair upon reading it. It is the worst possible message to spread at a time of such anger.
Generally, anger will dissipate over time. But maintaining it by claiming an immutable set of thoughts on the part of white people will have a lasting effect. And not a good one.
To classify people as unredeemable racists can destroy all intentions to be otherwise. If this attitude becomes the accepted view on all sides, and indeed it already is spreading, why should anyone even bother to attempt an equitable attitude towards others? Why make an effort to be fair-minded when it is assumed to be impossible? These questions contain terrible possible outcomes that should be obvious.
Surely, it is actions that matter. Can one not carry around racist ideas yet not act on them? As long as I do my best to treat others fairly and as the individuals that they in fact are, whatever racist ideas I may or may not have can be circumvented.
I imagine there could be situations in which I might be quick to judge someone based on race. The next step is what I do with that judgment. That is when my choices really matter because it is always actions that have an effect on others. Despite what I may be thinking, surely the effort to be helpful rather than harmful is the better choice.
Racist thinking avoids the harder work of having to consider each individual on his/her own terms. So when I hear comments about “all those people”, I know I’m dealing with a lazy mind. Do some people like this actually believe they have an all-knowing connection to every one of “them” on the planet?! That is what is required to accurately draw a conclusion about “all those other people”.
Irresponsible pronouncements will do little to decrease the atmosphere of violence.
So I offer these lines from the Daoist philosopher, Lao Tzu. This is for anyone who may be feeling violent anger.
You are well advised not to use violence,
For violence has a habit of returning;
Thorns and weeds grow wherever an army goes,
And lean years follow a war.
A general is well advised
To achieve nothing more than his orders:
Not to take advantage of his victory.
Nor to glory, boast or pride himself;
To do what is dictated by necessity,
But not by choice.
For even the strongest force will weaken with time,
And then its violence will return, and kill it.