The Red, White, & Stupid. 2016-02-03

imageNot in our town.  We live in a culturally diverse region as most do in this great country of ours. Okay, we live in a small German farming community about 25 miles away from more diverse sociality because of the mere fact farmers inhabited this area hundreds of years ago and farms have been passed down from generation to generation. We don’t live in a bubble, however, and I for one wasn’t raised to apply stigmatized labels of class or race on a sweeping scale to an entire group of people. We were taught that each individual should be afforded the grace to be judged (or not) on their own merit–good or bad. Each evaluation was to be personal and based on an individual’s behavior not on a group, country, haircut, tattoo, body type, religion, sexual orientation, color of skin, education, or any of the trillions of other things people base their opinions on. Of course we’re human and we can’t avoid all stereotypes and predestined evaluations; but we can certainly give it the good old college try. If I see someone unkempt with bad table manners eating at the same restaurant as us, I draw conclusions based on that sure, but to attach an impression or conclusive thought process to an entire group of people is quite insane.

You can imagine my surprise and shock when I saw the above Confederate flag adorning a window in a building across from one of our favorite eateries. I was immediately ashamed and embarrassed for the whole town. I mean, what if someone happened to be driving through and saw this? They would immediately assume this was okay with all of us. I assure you it’s not. It was like a label akin to a skull and crossbones that cast aspurgeon on the whole community.  I totally support many different opinions, thought processes, and freedom of speech. Flying the flag of ‘The South will rise again’ is a person’s right as an American. Freedom of speech and expression is what makes this country so awesome — warts and all.

Who really cares about the complex trumped-up meaning the flag owner attached to his right to display that flag. For example, when I see a person with a Mom tattoo, I immediately believe that person likes tattoos and his Mom. That outward symbol he has decided to showcase to the world would have the same meaning to the greater percentage of people reading it. We have no idea what it was intended to mean to the wearer. Who knew their dog was named Mom and they haven’t spoken to their real Mom in 20 years. Unlike a Confederate flag, a Mom tattoo wouldn’t  be offensive to most, but it does highlight the difference in context.  There are, however, are certain iconic symbols that provoke an immediate impression and the Southern Confederate flag is one of them. Put the dang thing on an inside wall and keep it out of the window. It does matter what the populace perceives to be the truth. I am not in support of anything that promotes ill will or hatred. Hey, but that’s me, others obviously have different viewpoints. Yah, we get it. You have the right to do it.

There are those who are blinded by ignorance and skewed ideas of what’s right and what’s wrong in the world. Racism is an abnormality seemingly as common as the everyday cold. Both are caught by other people who spread their germs from one to another. We try to contain it the best we can as a society and try to keep it from spreading, but somehow it seeps through the cracks and contaminates those with weaker constitutions than others. Racism is not something we’re born with, it’s something that is taught. It’s not a simple issue and certainly not a comfortable one. In my opinion, however, racism is something for which there hasn’t been a word strong enough to even describe its connotation or impact on an individual, family, community, country, or world. It is simply euthanasia of the soul. A murdered spirit cannot thrive in purpose or intent. It’s brilliance is gradually extinguished like a snuffed-out candle. Bigotry strives to contain an individual’s will and potential in a coffin of limitation and ignorance.

Let’s face it, without adding bias and bigotry to the equation there are enough reasons for potentially disliking a person such as their being a criminal, annoying, abrasive, hateful, or perhaps they are just a dang butthole. The only innate difference between us and any other human is where we were born and who we were born to; and not one of us had anything at all to do with either. For anyone still clinging to prejudice give it up, people… Sandy

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