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Glorious spring! Today our local temperatures are climbing as are brave green sprouts. Okay, they’re weeds, but they’re still brave and they’re still green. In spite of disheartening global news, spring insists on hope. Who cares that we’ll probably have more cold and more snow and more biting wind before summer banishes the final vestiges of winter. We have proof positive those are merely temporary setbacks.
Human society has temporary setbacks, as well—murders, rapes, wars, greed, selfishness, insults of every kind against our better natures. Some would say degradation is human nature, but we’ve been struggling to refine ourselves since we first became aware. Statistically, we’re making progress.
Isn’t it ironic that the same people who mutter their hatred of darker skins use summer to tan their own? They focus on the differences between subcultures, terrified that the memories of their own upbringing (even if it was horrific) might contrast with the memories future children hold. The fact is, OF COURSE the future will be different—whether or not everyone has white skin or brown skin or a zillion gradations in between and regardless of the language spoken. The sure bet is change.
The reason some factions of our society want to believe pale skinned people and societies are superior is they don’t recognize any of the abominations pale skinned people have committed over the millennia. They rationalize away repulsive acts they can’t ignore. Pale people are and have been as bad and good as any other group. They have even turned on other pale people for contrasting religious or national beliefs. Some pretend unfamiliar cultural and racial groups haven’t accomplished anything significant—a demonstration of gross ignorance.
Assuming recent mass murders are acts of “cleansing” and not merely expressions of severe mental illness, they echo past murders. History records many instances of genocide. It hasn’t worked well yet. And attempts to isolate one race or culture from another haven’t worked, either. The Japanese once killed any foreigner shipwrecked upon their shores.
James McBride was born with dark skin to a darker father and a white Jewish mother. He found more tolerance in the black communities than in the supposedly more civilized white communities…and so did his mother. He wrote about both of their experiences in his book The Color of Water. Times have changed since then, but not enough.
Most of us don’t clean if we don’t see dirt. Likewise, revealing resentments against immigrants and other races, religions, and traditions can help us move into an emotional spring. Deep down, we know we need to care about one another if we’re going to survive future challenges as a species. And our natural urge is to care. As McBride wrote, “The plain truth is that you’d have an easier time standing in the middle of the Mississippi River and requesting that it flow backward than to expect people of different races and backgrounds to stop loving each other… Love is unstoppable. It is our greatest weapon, a natural force, created by God.”
We’ll fix our mess eventually. It’s spring. What better time to renew?