Wednesday, August 11, 2010
We the People
Ah Americans. I am one. We are so proud of all that we have accomplished. We have done a lot, don't get me wrong. We really believe that we are the greatest country in the world and i would really not want to live anywhere else. I am happy that i can get online and write this blog and not be taken away tomorrow. What i am writing about now, is this selective ability we have to be both part of and separate from all the things we did.
Most of your super flag waving patriots are happy to point out all of the good things that we have done as a people, but as soon as you begin to talk about the ugliness of America: slavery, our acts of genocide toward native people, etc. they are quick to point out, "I did not do that! I never had a slave or killed a Native American." There is a great change of perspective when you move from positive to negative. We won World War II because we are the greatest country on Earth, but I never did any of those things so i don't want to hear about it.
It is all woven together. If you want the good, you have to take the bad along with it. We are a people that has made amazing strides in human freedom and we are also a nation that has committed or attempted to commit genocide. We have created some of the greatest scientific advances in the history of the world, and we are the ONLY country to ever use nuclear weapons in warfare and on two cities full of civilians by the way. Many people get upset about Native Americans or African Americans talking about the hardships their people have endured. Why is it so hard to accept that WE did do that, just like we put a man on the moon or helped end the Holocaust. As i said before it is a package deal.
I personally believe that is how we begin to heal and move past it. My professor Calvin in college was talking to a student during office hours and she told him that she had been raped by someone that she thought was a friend. He told her, "I am sorry." "Why," she asked, "you did not do it?" His response, "I know, but has anyone told you that they were sorry?" She wept and thanked him. I am deeply, deeply sorry for what my people, for what we have done. I understand that people have good reason to be pissed off. Friends i have known on the reservation have had good reason to not trust us white folks. WE have lied to them for 500 years. Our going down there and feeling the conditions and bridging gaps started a healing. Healing did not begin because we got defensive and said, "I did not do this to you, get over it." It was because we looked it in the face and said to our fellow human beings, "yeah, i am sorry, what happened really sucked."
We are the beneficiaries or victims of our past in some way. I live in a neighborhood with good influences and a decent school system that my parents' could get partially because of where they grew up which was a result of their parents being able to live in the right neighborhood or get good benefits because of the color of their skin. Some people live in horrible conditions because of historical reasons as well. We do not need to deny this and blame people for being lazy. There are some inequalities in the world. We should look at them honestly.
Note, i am not trying to make excuses for anyone. I think one of the worst things people can do is live with a victim chip on their shoulder. Any human circumstance can be overcome. Petty tyrants (see Carlos Castaneda and the book The Fire From Within) can be a great boon to advancing personal power. But, this idea and this defensiveness about how hard it is to be a European descendant in America because people blame us for what our ancestors did is a victim complex as well.
I love the place that i live in. I am proud of who i am and who i came from, but the people i descended from, were people, and sometimes people, all people suck. We are living presently in an era that is the result of our people sucking more than other people. Europeans happened to get in power and dominate the world for a good long time now. Maybe we will move toward a world where there is less oppression of people, but one way to do that is to honestly look at and accept what we have done. There are still people that in either direct or indirect ways are still suffering from OUR actions.
Ultimately, everyone's ancestors have done some sucky things to other humans and to the place they live in and the animals around them. Even more than being an American, i am a human. That involves a lot of beauty and a lot of ugliness that no other animal could even begin to imagine. But i accept who i am and what i am. I am a part of this whole great story that is humanity, for good and for bad. I am full of love and pity for those who have suffered, all of those who have suffered at my own hands down through the centuries and ages that we have walked in this form. We are all, every one of us, every one else, both living and gone down through the centuries. We are part of this community of humanity and we need to soon realize that we are all deeply, deeply rooted in this thing together.