20 January 2014

Living the dream

Today, America honors Martin Luther King, a civil-rights leader famous for having a dream that little white and black boys and girls would grow up together, without concern for race.

King's dream is still distant in parts of the US, although greater opportunity and prosperity means that fewer blacks* suffer from the color of their skin. In other countries, race- and skin-based frictions, policies and politics are sometimes less and sometimes more common.

That's because racism is not natural. What's natural, to humans, is identifying with one group and -- from within that group -- denouncing, hating and attacking other groups. You can see those dynamics in sports, nationalism, industrial relations, advertising, and so on.

Our natural tendencies are not going to go away, but their harmful influence can be reduced by policies that are more inclusive than exclusive. This means discriminating in favor of the poor, the unemployed, the hungry or the vulnerable. It does not require a skin-color chart, last name look-up, or crucifix check. It also means reducing the role of the state in personal matters that have zero public dimension (gay; abortion) and ensuring that state services are not captured by special interests.**

Bottom Line: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal"... and thus they shall not be treated according to their physical features but their status in life.

* American racial classifications (black, white, asian, etc.) are narrow enough to offend and subjective enough to confuse. They're a statistical, biological and social disaster even before considering the political games and conflict that they encourage.

** One reason, perhaps, for better relations (among races or migrants and citizens) in some countries may be a perception by the majority that "we've got ours" while the minority is not "taking our stuff." In the US, where politicians vie to bring home the bacon (money, jobs, prestige) to voters, there may be a perception that costs attributed to helping the weak actually mean less pork at home. This perception may be false, but the emotion around it is vivid.

1 comment:

  1. Often when I give a political speech I open with:

    My name is Ric Davidge
    I’m a human being

    [Pause/often laughter]

    No, I’m serious.

    If I introduced myself as a White, 67 yr old, Republican conservative, and straight, then many would consider me irrelevant – not worth listening to.

    So you see it still is not about the content of my character. It is still about the color of my skin, my age, and my sexual preference.

    ReplyDelete

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