Our nation and much of the world appear to be divided sociologically as at any time in modern history. Along with the ideologically and religious differences our society suffers from a popular trend to segment our population along racial, sexist, political, financial, family structure, legal, spiritual, and any other belief, behavior, or grouping imaginable. Every group believes that they have been discriminated against and blames the other groups, or another group, for the terrible situation they must endure. Many believe deeply in their discrimination and are passionate in their dislike for those groups believed causing their suffering.
Our dislike has turned to hate and our woes evolved to prejudices. Anger, blame and selfishness permeate our society to such a degree we do not recognize our own prejudices, yet we perceive bigotry all around us. Many forces encouraged this divisiveness and hate. Our news media, particularly our video media, use emotionally charged events to boost their popularity and ratings. When we believe we are being mistreated and think our civil liberties are being violated, we take it personal and pay more attention. To some extent the news media must respond to local and national events. They must also attract viewers and readers as well as advertisers. What they should not do, is select isolated events and sensationalize them to the viewing public as if occurrences are a national plague. We are a nation of over 300 million people where every day something awful and tragic occurs somewhere in the United States. Certainly one must respond to tragedies and atrocities, but these occurrences do not mean we are a nation of bigots. We have laws to address these occurrences and penalties for illegal behavior.
This world and our nation will always have bigots and ignorance, but they will be very few if the rest of us treat each other with kindness, respect, and equality without denigrating or promoting segments of our society. We humans and United States citizens are much more alike than we are different. Although each of us is unique, we are all God’s children and made in his image. We must denounce hate, bigotry and anger toward people that are not exactly like us. Inappropriate behavior offends us, not racial or ethnic groups. We also need to denounce individuals who promote hate even when they look and are grouped like us.
Our nation was embroiled in an ugly, very political election. Candidates, and subsequent constant media coverage, insult each other, and people associated with them. Their actions further divided our country. With presidential candidates in the lead, and many other down the ballot candidates, insulting and alienating groups of people is the norm. We are choosing sides and allowing ourselves to be grouped and then angry at those not in our group. We do not see the hypocrisy or prejudice candidates, political pundits, and newscasters when they say we or they will get the brown vote, or black, or white vote, or Christian vote, etc. Not only is this divisive to our country, It is insulting. They’re saying all people of a specific characteristic, such as skin color, must act and think in one way. Grouping ourselves along racial, ethnic, political, etc. borders only further isolates ourselves. If one only determines his brother by the color of his skin, he contributes to hate and ignorance. We once called that bigotry.
Our current election only highlights divisive actions occurring in our country for the past several years. Our country and the world have spent many decades tearing down ethnic and racial prejudices only to see them provoked in the last several years. Politicians have long used and abused segments of America to get reelected and increase their wealth. We are now seeing even Presidents weigh in on individual issues in a way that inflames our divisiveness. Entertainers and athletes, more and more, use their popularity in a manner that divides us when they could use their positions to heal. Movies are made to support one’s opinion, yet often at the expense of another. We have television shows, which insinuate one must act and behave in a certain way if you are of a certain racial or ethnic group. They often do this at the expense of another racial or ethnic group. Comedians often get away with blatant racism, sexism, and ethnic bigotry under the guise of humor.
We need more patience, tolerance, understanding and kindness toward others, especially when their opinions differ from our own. We must not let political discussion and comments enter our houses of worship or spiritual relationships. Television networks should not allow political commentators as part of news. Current and former political figures, as well as promoters of social movements should be identified as such and not part of network news. All of us should be more respectful and accurate when we are on social media. Unless we can document a reliable source we should refrain from repeating rumors. We need to understand, bigotry will always be in our world, but should not be part of us. We also must recognize each time we promote ourselves because of some type of ethnicity, color, political party, etc., whether we like it or not, we alienate those of another. We must be careful of taking pride in the superficial rather than our behavior. We need to elect representatives to government offices who will represent all of us and not themselves. We also need elected officials who will not run for reelection, and make them more accountable.
I believe we all need to be less selfish and have a greater concern for our fellow man. If we all agreed on everything, we would not need elections. Elections have no guarantees for any of us other than an individual is elected and that person is to represent all of us. Every four years, and presidential elections, almost half of our country is disappointed. We are not entitled to anything but the right to vote. Each of us acting and speaking with kindness, rather than hate, does far more for our country than any vote cast.
a Diana resident and former New Diana ISD superintendent, is an occasional contributor to the Longview Journal Saturday Forum. These articles are his submissions.