A quirk about humankind is that for us, death is the cause that tends to effect change. For decades, bullying was a normal part of growing up. But that changed when a number of bullying victims committed suicide. For the longest time it was acceptable to treat homosexual and transgender individuals with utter contempt, but after a number of murders and suicides we began to change our views. In parts of the south, the murder of African Americans was part of the status quo until Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for change. For a time we thought that we had succeeded in making things better – until about a year ago when we realized that we haven’t changed as much as we thought we had.
Why do people have to die, by murder or suicide before people take issues seriously enough to call for change? How many deaths does it take for change to happen? I would have thought that by now we would have learned from decades gone by and centuries worth of history – that ultimately when anyone is not treated with respect or made to live a second-class existence that it reveals a systematic problem with the way we live our lives. Considering how little progress we’ve made on the racism front, I’m quite worried about all of the races that share in the prosperity of my country.
I’m worried that my own race hasn’t really learned what they need to learn to prevent going through it all again in another fifty or so years. Sure, we have an African-American president, but it’s not proof that when it comes down to the working class population that we’ve smoothed out all of the wrinkles. And now there’s a constant suspicion of Middle Eastern Americans that’s added to the mix. I don’t want to see anyone hurt or die, I don’t want another news story that quick to blame a race for the action of an individual member.
As a white person, I don’t often see that. When white guys commit crimes, it’s not proof positive of the inherit lack of character of white guys. But too often when people of any other color commit crimes it’s proof that those people lack moral fiber. So we haven’t learned that regardless of color, humanity shares the same traits, the same moral strengths, and the same moral failings – each culture might emphasize one or downplay another; but we’re really not all that different from one another.
But how do you get people to see that they’re just alike one another when all they are looking for is how their differences makes themselves superior to others or better than others in one way or another? How do you spread the message that suicide is no solution and murder isn’t okay? How do you get a society to change beforehand so that nobody has to die? What will it take to save the world and save lives?