Part III – Thoughts from the Rabbit Hole
Racism: A Riddle, Wrapped in A Mystery, Inside an Enigma
Last time I wrote about my personal journey as a Southerner, I concluded that for all of us born by God’s grace in the South, acting like good and true Southerners is what we can do to bring peace to our region of the country in this troubled time. Southernness is not external. Rather, it is found in the goodness inside us. In other words,
Now is the time for us to behave like our mamas taught us.
The key idea to these sometimes-unconnected thoughts from down the rabbit hole is this:
That the course that America chooses for a successful future will be based primarily on whether or not we view diversity as our country’s most positive cultural indicator of our democratic model.
The flip side of that coin is that it will not be easy, no matter how much we desire it.
To this writer, at this moment, it seems that our democratic citizenry because of our democracy can respond to current events as we lead up to the November election in many directions—not all of them positive or productive. We can lose our democracy if we balkanize over our inability to come together over a righteous cause.
“How is that?” Perhaps you ask. Let me give you an example. Have you ever looked for a new church? (My Southernness is coming out. Can you tell?!)
You visited several, and each time you walked in the door, there was a different feel to every church. Finally, you found one that you really liked and started regularly attending only to find in six months that the feeling you got walking into the door that first morning was not the culture you saw in that church from the inside. What you initially experienced was the thin veneer of climate, not the deep, ingrained, and lasting culture you were seeking.
The power and process of cultural change is no secret, but it is damn hard to accomplish.
Many people do not appreciate Machiavelli, but if one pulls back 1500’s societal layers of the onion of this complicated advisor to Italian princes, wisdom begins to appear like in the quote below. In this caution, he is advising royalty who are about to become new rulers of new kingdoms for the first time. He writes,
It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
Machiavelli was talking about small Italian principalities that defined Italy during the Renaissance.
Imagine if he were advising America today as we still rebound (hopefully) from a pandemic and are attempting to institute a new cultural norm from top to bottom in our society.
Evil is real, and it is among us.
But not all police are evil racists because they wear blue. Not all white people are evil racists just because they are white-skinned.
I pray (hope is not a strong enough emotion) that those on the crest of this most needed cultural wave of change can accept that there are racists among your numbers who hate white people and cops just because of the color of their uniforms or their skin. Do you believe that only white people can be racists? Some of your numbers do. If you cannot get beyond this, your own prejudicial barrier, you will be found among the polemic junk heaps of history.
Some things we need to do are hard to hear. I know. I have been there. Recently.
I composed the ideas in this essay over several days and as someone who began writing it in agreement with much that you preach. And it was hard for me write.
Now, for a caution. I have lived a long life and led numbers of cultural changes that failed to meet their potential in some really exceptionally fine educational organizations because they would not do what it took to move from good to great. As the author Jim Collins wrote in his book, Good to Great, the enemy of great is good. Will we be our own worst enemy?
I am a believer in the goodness of the human being.
I believe that the Almighty designed us to be good and to do good. The time is upon us when we must demand to see the goodness in the government that protects us and teaches us and heals us. It is time for our government to be as our founding fathers— some of them flawed—intended.
Please, let us do it right—every one of us. And let us be honest with each other and respect each person’s culture and experiences inherent only to them.
And let us be as the Almighty still intends for us to be.