Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's So Special About Me?

One subject that I find very important to my country and my culture is race relations in general and Black/White relations in particular. One would think that the Internet would be a great tool in exploring these themes, with its relative anonymity and it's rapid, broad dispersal of ideas. Well maybe, the jury is still out.

I did not wait for the Internet to begin exploring the issues associated with race relations. I have history in this matter. I have had my successes and my failures, but I have tried never to shy away from an opportunity to learn something or to school somebody. The social situations are fun, I don't ask for any credit for those. I have also devoted quite a bit of professional time to the enterprise. I don't ask for credit for that either, not necessarily, but I'm proud of it. Other people have done more than me to explore and try to improve race relations, but many more people have done less. My conscience is clear; I've done my best.

But who knows that? On the Internet, I post comments under my real name and attach a picture, I post under my Blogger identity. So if anyone is so disposed, they may check my own page and find out a little bit about me. No, I'm afraid that's too much to ask. And Internet comments must be limited in scope, mustn't they? You can include an autobiographical essay in each one.

On a web site that I like very much I recently chimed in on an amazing thread about the tension in the American Black community between people of varying shades of color. I took a lot of hits, some favorable, some tolerant, and some comments that brooked great umbrage with my ideas (and the very idea that I would express them). Some of those last included bald misreadings of my content, and many included suppositions about me that just were not true. Like that I didn't know about this or that (but I did, probably); like that I'd never actually spoken to Black Americans (oh, but I have actually); like I'd never had any Black friends (oops, yes again).

Who am I to condemn this knee-jerk assessment of me as a White jerk-off? There's some truth in it, after all. One commenter was especially persistent and personal. I felt like I was being judged too quickly, on too little evidence, mostly the evidence of the picture. Finally I just said, "If it were my role to be the semi-self-educated, slightly aware, occasionally decent, vaguely acceptable White man who really just proved the rule that all White men are vomitous White Supremacist demons, I could live with that, more or less."

But really, who am I? What's so special about me?

I'm empathetic, for one, I feel what other people are feeling, especially the negative emotions. I believe that life is suffering, I believe that we all suffer, each in our way. I do love other people, and I view with charity and resignation the suffering of others. I find it all interesting . . . is that condescending? More than interesting, I find it all important, and not only to that particular sufferer, but to all of us.

We are all in this thing together, I don't think that's an exaggeration. We need to learn to walk in each other's moccasins. We need to try harder to understand each other, and to help each others.

So what's the take-away? Don't be too quick to judge, I suppose. Let's learn to be kinder to one another. Oh, it sounds like such a load of shit, and it flies in the face of all Twenty-First Century logic, but shouldn't we at least try to love each other?

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