“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” ~Martin Luther King
I have been sick for the better part of this week, so I am listening to my body and taking a brief blogging siesta. For that reason, portions of this post are from an earlier post, one that I feel so strongly about that, over the years, I’ve posted it twice, (You can read the posts here and here.) It saddens me that there remains a need to revisit the topic.
As an initial matter, I could not allow more time to go by without mentioning and recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is described as:
“a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as “public accommodations“).”
In the interest of brevity, I discussed more about the Act in this post. In brief, the Act was the culmination of a tumultuous time in American history when this country was torn apart over matters of race. Inequality reigned and the Act served to place all citizens on a level playing field, each with the same rights promised by the United States Constitution. The intention of the Act was, among other things, to begin the extraordinary task of healing the wounds of a divided nation. However, as I celebrate the Act, I find that I am not thinking of all that the Act has accomplished and that yet to be accomplished. Instead, foremost in my mind, I am reminded of the very real problems currently facing our nation.
The problems about which I am speaking is the vitriol, rancor and hatred that has permeated American society during the last decade. It is commonplace to see references to “red” states and “blue” states, Republicans and Democrats, but these labels serve nothing more than to further divide a populous that is already dangerously separated. It’s “us’ verses “them.”
For a large segment of this country, agreeing to disagree is akin to an accusation of a heinous act. Differences of opinions are now regarded as personal attacks, and in some cases, may lead to such. Families are torn apart, friendships are irrevocably damaged, and in some instances, employees, fearing for their jobs, cast their votes as instructed by their employers. Ironically, those who are the first to scream and shout if it seems that their First Amendment rights are even slightly infringed upon, are the very people who shamelessly denigrate the beliefs and points of view of others, all the while championing their own.
On a grand scale, there is no simple or quick fix to the angry, hateful climate that has festered for more than a decade. We cannot look to the media, politicians, or anyone else for that matter, to address the problem, because in some cases, they participated in stirring the pot of discord that has boiled to overflowing. The answer lies within each of us.
Of course, there are many actions that we each can take to make sure that we are not part of the problem, but a part of the solution. The first and most important step is to recognize that there is indeed a problem. Doing so, allows each one of us to take responsibility for our own actions, and to set a mindful intention not to add to the divisiveness.
One suggestion is to begin each day with this affirmation:
“Today I will attempt to see anything I am involved with from more than one perspective. If I feel myself getting stuck in the way I see things, I will say to myself, “I wish to see this differently,” and know that my sincere desire will result in a shift of awareness. There is really no one right way to see anything. To allow my point of view to shift will not only produce insight and relief for a particular circumstance but it will give me practice in letting my mind move freely and independently. I will allow myself the luxury of relaxing my rigid point of view and letting new light and fresh awareness come into my inner sight. I believe that it is possible to see things in a variety of ways.” ~Tian Dayton, Ph.D.
How you choose to deal with the problem is up to you, so long as your solution is positive, and does nothing to add to it. Listening and treating others and their point of view with the respect that it deserves, does not mean that we must change our point of view one iota, but who knows, we might learn something. The important thing for the health of this country is that we “transform the jangling discord of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,” as Dr. King envisioned. Let it begin with you.
Have a great weekend!