When I began my first blog, the central theme was acceptance of others based not on race, religion, gender, sexual preference or any of the other methods white heterosexuals use to pretend as if we're somehow better or more deserving than everyone else--but on our simple humanity.
Members of Western European society and, to an even greater extent, American society place themselves at the top of the food chain. The people in this group, often without even being aware of it, perceive ourselves as smarter, cleverer, somehow more deserving than others of getting to the top and staying there.
The subset of White heterosexual Males has set itself up at the pinnacle of even THIS group. Our society has this view so ingrained in it that virtually no one even sees it anymore. This is simply the world as it is—and it is rarely examined rationally.
One illustration of this was the statement by a White American woman upon seeing the astronauts set foot on the moon for the first time. She said she was proud of herself. She wasn’t an astronaut. She didn’t go to the moon. She wasn’t involved in any way in that endeavor. She made that statement simply because she was an American—as if that made her, somehow, more responsible for the achievement than people of other nationalities were.
My question is: how did her nationality link her to the experience more than a human being in Sri Lanka, say, or Nigeria, or Iraq or Italy? It was, after all, a human achievement—as noted by Neil Armstrong when he said, ‘One giant leap. . .’ Even he erred when he used the word, 'MANKIND'. I’ve never heard anyone challenge his word choice. But, it makes a very strong assumption, when you think about it.
People say that people shouldn’t or that they, individually, don’t discriminate but—if any of us could step outside ourselves and look at ourselves as others see us—we might get an unpleasant surprise. In subtle, insidious manners we would see ourselves engaging in discriminating behaviors, word choices, assumptions.
I know I would. My contention is: we all do it. The best we can hope for is to notice that we are doing it as soon as possible and stop and think; actually pay attention to what we are doing and ask ourselves if we want to continue.
Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, once said, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’
My challenge to each and every person who reads this blog [and I include myself in that group] is that we take this recess to examine our lives with an eye toward how we discriminate against people of groups other than the ones we, personally, belong to.
I’ll be closing down the blog for the next few weeks while I move to Florida and get set up there. In the interim, I leave you with this link. It’s the most commonly requested program on PBS’s Frontline.
I can’t explain better than the show itself does, the point I’m trying to make, so I’ll simply allow it to speak for itself.
See you in Florida! :)