The other day I took time to actually listen to some videos and read some articles about what is going on in our nation. I was somewhat appalled at one suggestion that said we should be teaching our children about racism. Why? By nature children are not racist unless they are taught to be. Let me relate my own childhood.
I am the product of a multi-generation union. My dad was twenty-two years older than my mom. He was born in 1910 at a time when there truly was a problem with racism. But, he did not leave me that legacy. He taught me that decent people are decent people regardless of the color of their skin. The ‘white trash’ people were not any better than ‘black trash’ people, they are all the same. Poor didn’t mean you had to behave like trash. A man was respected because of his character not the color of his skin or any other irrelevant attribute. Dad was a firm ‘content of character’ believer long before that term was made popular. I was unaware of racism as a child.
As a matter of fact, the only time I ever recall noticing the color of a man’s skin was the day after I got out of 2nd grade in 1962. My mom and I were on a trip to pick up my brother to spend the summer with us. We were in a car accident and the following morning while we were at a restaurant having breakfast a group of black people walked in. One was an albino with yellow hair and very pale skin. I quietly leaned over to my mom and whispered to mom, “He’s the wrong color.” I was 8 and learned what albinism is, not what racism is. It’s the only time in my recollection that the color of a man’s skin was ever a question.
I lived in several places during my childhood, some had very few non-white families and some had many. Growing up in the time when Martin Luther King, Jr. was raising awareness of the injustice of racism and segregation I was totally unaware of the conflict. I lived in Springfield, MO from 1966 – 1968 while my mom was attending college. The first place we lived when we moved there was in the middle of a pretty large black community. The school I attended for 7th grade was predominantly black. As a child I didn’t notice racial discrimination. I had friends that were black and the color of their skin wasn’t anything I ever though about. Every day I walked to school alone past a small industrial area, a private college, and a high school. I was never concerned about my safety or anything, just getting to school on time.
During that time my dad operated a service station in an industrial section of town. The majority of his customers were black. I would walk to his station after work and would pump gas for customers. No one ever mentioned anything about the race of the customers or of us as a family of ‘white folk’ serving them. You know what impressed me the most? The gas wars of the time. I remember pumping gas for people when it was 11 cents a gallon. Oh, but that’s whole different subject. The point is, I was totally unaware of racial unrest all throughout my childhood.
It wasn’t until I got to college, and I did not start college right out of high school, that I read about what had happened in a college history book. I was appalled and frankly quite surprised that I had grown up through that period of time and knew nothing about it. Nothing. The death of President Kennedy when I was in 4th grade was something I had a limited understanding about the importance of what had happened. I was aware of the Viet Nam war and the protests against our being there. It didn’t end until the year after I graduated high school. But I had not a bit of knowledge or understanding of the civil rights movement until I was 24 or so in college. How could that happen? I think it was because my parents protected me from that so I would not be influenced one way or the other. How they managed to protect me is beyond me unless in the areas where we lived there was a total news black-out on what was happening.
My last two years of high school were in a small town in New Mexico. There were Hispanics, Navajos, and a diverse background of white people though the area was dominated by the Hispanics and Navajos. The whites were either rancher’s kids or teacher’s kids and a sprinkling of others that were neither. That was the first community in which I actually witnessed discrimination between the groups. The ranchers kids were more often the most discriminatory of all and I didn’t like them because of it. A few were not, but, for the most part they were. The Navajo’s kept to themselves, and I don’t blame them. At that time the Bureau of Indian Affairs had a dormitory in which all the school children from the nearby reservation were bussed and spent the whole week away from their family just so they could go to school. I’m so proud of those in my generation who changed that. They started a school on the reservation, first for the elementary age children and ultimately for K-12. (I was sorry to hear this week that one of the men I knew in high school and had become the athletic coach at the high school on the reservation died from this COVID-19, his wife and son had also died from it earlier. Very sad news, my prayers go out to that family.)
Back to the subject at hand, I spent those last two years of high school hanging out with the Hispanic group. There were one or two other, ‘Anglo’ kids who also were part of the group. You know, I didn’t even know I was an ‘Anglo’ until I moved there. I know the term comes from my Anglo-Saxon ancestry but I’d never considered myself anything but an American. We’re all American here, or at least that’s the way it was. I didn’t even consider there were immigrants who were not Americans. I had a lot to learn. But discrimination and racism wasn’t something I approved. It still isn’t acceptable to me. We are all humans. If we were invaded by what many would call aliens from another place we’d be united as humans and the color of our skin wouldn’t mean a thing. The cultural background wouldn’t mean a thing either.
In high school I was part of the FHA the last two years. One of those years I went to the state conference. There was only one thing I still retain to this day. There was a speaker who was apparently there to try and dispel racist attitudes. The one thing he said that rang true to me is that there is no such thing as a white man, black man, yellow man, or red man. We are all various shades of brown. It’s true.
Fast forward to today. The things happening around our nation are crazy. Protests that are being used as a cover for rioting over issues that really are not so much racially based as class based. But the news outlets are telling us it’s because of racial discrimination. Granted there are still some radicals out there that are racist, but, I do believe they are a limited minority. The worst I’ve seen in the news is not white against black but the other way around. Groups like BLM, who’ve been hijacked by fascists, are promoting an agenda that I think the majority of either or don’t agree with or if they are participating in their activities misunderstand the agenda being promoted. A few may actually agree, but, very few in my opinion. Witnessing the news of the riots and destruction it looks like all the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been undermined in today’s society. He was a man of peace. He’d be appalled at what is going on, just as he would have been appalled at what happened after his assassination.
The unrest and chaos taking place around the nation seems to be isolated to Democratic controlled areas. There were a couple weeks of protests in nearby Omaha after the Floyd murder and a little rioting with some destruction of businesses in the Old Market area. As a result there were curfews established in Omaha and Lincoln and a few surrounding communities. Not mine, though, beyond what is already established for minors. We are a small rural community of about 2000 residents of diverse ancestry. It is a quiet community in which little sensational crime occurs.
I am concerned about the direction our nation is headed though. Our nation was established to free us from tyrannical government and our constitution begins with “We the People…” in bold letters. The government was not meant to control the people, but the people to control the government. At this point governmental control has gone way beyond what the founders intended. If they were alive today there’d be another war for freedom. Yes, at the time there was slavery on this continent and it wasn’t right, but, it was what it was. Eventually the nation did abolish the practice. That was several generations ago. In the meantime, there have been many emigrants from all over the globe come into our country to live the ‘American dream.’ What is that dream? The Declaration of Independence sets it out for us, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence stated that it is the right of the people to change their government when it descended into despotism. Here is an excerpt:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
We can see that our government has been descending into a state where we need to alter it. Preferably back to what the founders intended when they declared independence from Britain. They were pretty smart men. Recognizing that we have a creator and he gave us rights that no man has the authority to take away from us as humans. What we see in our country today is man taking away our rights, either through laws that increase the power of the state, or lawless men creating a situation where our rights are trampled upon, supposedly, in the name of former injustices for which they believe all future generations of one group are responsible to make reparations to all the descendants of those wronged. This should not be so.
As I see it, the instigators of the civil unrest have a goal to destroy humanity. The evil that is in this world is greater than any one of us can imagine. That evil does not originate in the hearts of men, but is placed there by spiritual forces of evil that have been at war with mankind since the incident in the garden of Eden. It is a seed war and eventually our creator will step in and say, “That is quite enough!” and put an end to it. I look forward to that day, though; honestly I do not think it will happen in my lifetime. Still, I keep looking up in anticipation and hope.
Blessings to all, and may you find peace and contentment in your pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.