Updated: Jun 5
Find A Cause
Have you noticed how some of the great causes were championed mostly by people directly affected? Finding a cure for breast cancer. The Civil Rights Movement. Domestic abuse awareness.
We care deeply about that which affects us. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a national movement. If there is an emotional attachment, we care.
Amazingly, racism is back in the national consciousness of our country. In my opinion, this begs the question; will we choose to care this time?
The Connection Of Caring
I recall when Robin Williams passed. A few days later a work acquaintance, from my days in sales, bragged to me about a social media post which caused several of his friends to block him. “Everyone was posting about their sadness over Robin Williams, and I berated them for not thinking about our military men and women dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
My response was silence. I should have provided some perspective. Maybe it would not have mattered.
We feel connected when there is emotional involvement. For many people, including me, Robin Williams brought out emotions. When a redux of Robin appears on my social media feed, I feel something. I miss him.
What my fellow salesman failed to understand, among other things, is people want validation of their feelings. We express sorrow or happiness with our friends in hopes of a shared experience. Want a formula to lose friends and isolate yourself? Make it your mission to marginalize their feelings.
My connection to Robin Williams was a choice. I chose to watch his performances. He brought me great joy. I felt sorrow when that was suddenly gone.
For the longest time in my life I failed to care about issues regarding racism. I did not actively follow those stories. Instead of choosing to care about the plight of others, I instead continued to attempt to make my friends laugh through cruel jokes. I am not proud of my past.
Can We Choose To Care?
So how did I change, you might wonder. It wasn’t some self-serving politician. It certainly was not the news media. I have turned my back on the networks since 2004. It was my children. It was, and is, their generation.
I’ll share a quote I’ve mentioned within my close circle. Tolerance and acceptance is a freight train that can not be stopped by the aging generations. It is here. As the baby boomers pass away, their views and intolerance will die with them.
Of course, to pin it all on the elderly is unfair, and wrong. We are all accountable.
Human beings are born with two ears and one mouth. Despite this biological miracle, we often spend more energy expressing our opinions rather than listening. If we pause and listen, then maybe, just maybe, we can start down the road to changing our behavior.
Age does not have to equate to set in our ways. My father is a baby boomer. He cared about the issues facing our society today well before I learned to care. I am thankful for his guiding light, and I am thankful for the kick in the ass my children provided. Through them I’ve learned to listen more. We are facing a national dilemma. I am listening.
What Choice Will You Make?
Some of the great movies of our time elicit strong emotional responses. Don’t believe me? Try to recall a theatre experience during an emotional scene. I’ll bet you heard sniffles nearby. Maybe your eyes welled up a bit? Come on, you can admit it.
Great movies, and more to the point, great actors, are able to create empathy for their characters. We become a part of them. We feel the tears of losing a loved one, from a person we've never met.
We should not need a movie to care about the plight of others, playing out before us right now. We merely have to make a choice. We can choose to empathize with the fear felt by our fellow citizens. We can choose to imagine what it is like to hear an engine revving as a pickup truck continues to chase us. We can imagine what it is like to have a knee pressed into our neck, suffocating our airway.
Ahmaud Arbery did not deserve to die. The last words uttered to him, if he was still alive to hear them, are beyond anything resembling humanity. It is possible he heard pure evil as he took his last breath. George Floyd did not deserve to die. He did not deserve to confront the blackness with a knee pressed into his neck.
Can We Chart A Different Path?
What faces us as a society, right now, extends beyond George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. These are not isolated incidents. These two tragedies are symptoms of a deep problem in our society. A deep ingrained problem which was not resolved after the Civil Rights Movement. Racism was merely buried because it was no longer accepted on the national stage. Yet it is obvious it remains. To believe otherwise is to be beyond ignorant. To believe otherwise is to be a part of the problem.
I can’t find a direct emotional attachment to racism. I’ve never felt anything remotely close. I’ve never experienced it. I do not know what it is like.
Will we as a society validate the feelings of those affected by racism? It is not a tough question. The answer is staring us in the face. It is time for white people to own the cause of others. If we do not, then we are not truly human.
I choose to care. From this I have found a connection. All I now know I am not doing enough.