Over the past several years, when important social rights issues have been discussed, debated and voted on, I often hear people say “It’s 201_ and I can’t believe we are still dealing with X.” I used to say that myself – example “why in 2016 are people still making a big deal about gay people being in love or getting married.” I completely get where these people (and formerly myself) are coming from. In this day in age – 2017 A.D. – one would think that the thoughts and beliefs of humanity in general would have moved beyond caring how other people live their lives or what color their skin is or what their religious beliefs are etc.
But the other day, I think while reading some dialogue about LGBTQ rights, someone said something like “why is this still an issue in 2017?”. And it struck me quickly like a lightning bolt (a tired metaphor, I know), “what does being 2017 have to do with anything?”. The advancement of thousands of years going by, adding to our annual trip around the sun, does not necessarily assure enlightened progression of people’s understanding of the human condition. People will be small-minded, racist, prejudiced, hateful, rude, spiteful, vengeful, merciless and unforgiving for as long as there are people to walk this earth. I cannot say I have done much research, or even light reading on this, but I would bet that people have been this way since the progress of evolution brought about the human race.
Painting with a broad brush stroke here, but I feel that as long as humans have the ability to think and feel, have free-will and choice, and the ability to decide upon which thoughts they will act, the whole of humanity will never end racism, bigotry, chauvinism, xenophobia, sexism, dogmatism or the desire to control others. It is a very nice thought to believe that as the years continue to go by that all people (current living and future born) will fill their hearts with decency, unconditional tolerance of others, helpfulness, total acceptance, peace and have no judgement. But as long as there is at least one person around spreading hateful ideas, there will be at least one person to openly/actively listen and accept those terrible, wounding views in their cold hard hearts.
It has been said time and again by studious persons that “people are afraid of the unknown – things they don’t understand.” That is one of the truest statements ever realized and taught. Many people are afraid and embarrassed to be seen as uneducated and/or vulnerable, leaving them to be stalwart holders of ignorance and hate. They can also be fearful of having family and friends think ill of them, which continues the cycle of closed-mindedness and unacceptance.
One part of the human condition directly and indirectly taught is that we want people we love and care about to think positively of us; and we dare not go against the grain we know. So we sometimes hastily take up their beliefs and opinions as our own and usually don’t give them much thought or scrutiny. We don’t want to be left out in the cold or become one of those that our loved ones loathe. Humans (some, not all, naturally) don’t want to be seen as weak that can be easily convinced to join the “other side”. The “other side” being people who do offer acceptance, love, and tolerance of those different from themselves. We’d rather keep the peace around the dinner table and back yard barbeque than to try and help those persecuted find peace.
So many foibles easily and quietly slither their way into peoples’ views, and eventually show up in their actions. 2017, 2018, 2020, 2025, 2035 etc – no matter what year comes along, harshness, intolerance, refusal to empathize & show compassion, and being unkind will always be a part of the human experience. Just like people have the option to choose which feeling/attitude they will act upon, they also may pick and choose which parts of some constitutionally guaranteed freedoms they want applied. They want these freedoms to apply when it positively benefits them and will utilize these liberties to stoke the fires of hatred and bias.
People appreciate freedom of religion as long as others practice the same religion. Heaven help them if they don’t believe/practice in the same way! Some of the populace use freedom of speech too liberally in some instances – as in speaking before fully understanding about what they are speaking when it comes to major social/economic/government issues and rights or spreading alternative facts. (!) And with freedom of the press, some will quickly believe just about anything presented as news if it lines up with their views without doing any research to learn if what is being reported has any amount of truth to it or if some of the truth was twisted to entice and enflame its readers. **These are just my thoughts. Possibly not well-reasoned ones!** Don’t get me wrong here! I really do appreciate these freedoms and the others that we so fortunately have here in the USA.
So I realize I have been rambling on here and may have gotten somewhat off topic. I guess overall what I am trying to say is that humans will be humans with all of the emotions, feelings and beliefs that are available for them to have - no matter if its back in the Middle Ages, Age of Discovery, Napoleonic Era or Post-Cold War/Postmodernity Era or any of the Eras and Ages that have come to pass since the beginning of humanity.
Anyway these are my (probably irrational) opinions and feelings on the often said “I can’t believe it is (current year) and we still have to deal with (social/economic issue).”
Two clarifications here to keep in mind:
1) I am not a historian, philosopher, psychologist or psychiatrist or any other scholar. So I am just kind of making this up as I go along based on what I have heard, read and observed over the years; and
2) I do not have any answers on how to make all of human race loving, kind and peace-filled. The best I can do is be kind to others and help where I can. And if I am brave, call out other people who are being mean to those who are different – whether different in skin color, sexuality, religion or any other factor.
Today’s pun courtesy of the interwebs ---
An umbilical cord is a navel vessel.