Please tell me, is this the kind of world you want to live in? Are you proud to leave our country in its present condition to the next generation—our children, grandchildren—any child?
Perhaps your perception of the world is different than mine, but I see disrespect for the environment, wildlife, and humanity. I see inequity, hunger, poverty, prejudices, and a country that is currently volatile with intolerance. The Washington Post recorded 163 mass shootings in the United States between 1967 and June of 2019.
Inequality has existed in the United States since colonial times. European Americans, particularly affluent, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant men, received legally and socially sanctioned privileges and rights in matters of education, immigration, voting, citizenship, land acquisition, and criminal procedures. Those who did not fit that particular profile, such as immigrants from Ireland, Poland, and Italy, and women suffered discrimination until the late 19th and early 20th century.
After welcoming and assisting European immigrants, Native Americans found themselves on the wrong end of conflicts, forced displacement, imposed treaties, and the loss of land they occupied for thousands of years. According to national mental health studies, Native American Indians as well as natives of Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific islands are among the most economically disadvantaged in the U.S.
We continued our American history with slavery, segregation, detention camps for Japanese Americans, and discrimination. African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Jews, Arabs, and Asians were and are particularly targeted in addition to others based on gender or sexual orientation. Historians estimate that nearly one million people of color were traded as slaves in this country. These were people who lost their homes, culture, and connection to families in the name of greed.
White supremacist groups soon arose after the 13th Amendment was passed and have continued ever since aiming their intolerance at all those who do not fit their self-determined image of superiority. Their belief is that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. We are who we are purely because of genetics. Our experiences, wisdom, and choices are meaningless to them.
With the growth of genetic and ancestral testing sites such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe we are learning that few if any of us are “purebreds.” Our ancestors migrated and mingled with other cultures throughout history resulting in a stew of ancestral and genetic variations. Only groups who never were invaded, migrated, or accepted immigrants would have a single ancestry.
We don’t have to be a shooter to cause pain. All of our words count. If we want peace and justice in this country, it begins with us. We have to treat everyone in the way we want to be treated regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Our “jokes” and comments on Facebook and Twitter, in emails, and through personal contacts have an impact on anyone who sees or hears us. Let’s be totally honest as to the level of our tolerance and discrimination and strive to be a peacemaker rather than an agitator. Wildlife, humanity, and our planet deserves respect. We are all connected in this global society and can grow together if we unify and lift one another up.
Saint Mother Theodore Guerin/Theodora was an advocate for respect for all life forms. Read about her journey in Seven Principles of Sainthood and Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God.