These past few weeks have left me speechless. I simply don’t know what to say. It’s not that I don’t have emotions or reactions, rather I don’t want to feel what I am feeling—hopeless, horrified, completely disappointed in our government, the actions of individuals, even in our species.
Once again we are rising up, reawakening to power differentials, taking action and saying “No more!” Is this real change and an upward trend, or a momentary flutter in an historic review when we look back a few centuries from now?
In the lifetime of my grandmother she saw the rise and fall of lynchings by the KKK. In the lifetime of my father segregation in the U.S. came to an end (mostly). In my lifetime we have seen the end of electroshock therapy and sterilization of those who have learning disabilities. We will look back on each of these in disgust and wonder how it could have been.
But how quickly do we revert to the behavior of the prior generations? Are we truly changed as a species, reprogrammed at a fundamental level, or are we more simply rewiring our expectations with the underlying systems of interplay nearly identical to 100,000 years ago?
In our places of work, school, and social engagement, we talk about awareness and education. We engage in difficult conversations and walk in the shoes of those we do not understand. We remove people from power who are abusive to the minority and the under privileged. I ask, Are we affecting change at the source? Or are we just temporarily modifying the behavior of a half generation, the next to come along reverting to what we thought was erased?
Maybe we are on an upward trend, a global consciousness rising. Maybe the current rise of dictators and fascism and hatred for “the other” is a momentary, interglacial freeze in a longer warming trend. Or maybe Roddenbury got it all wrong and four hundred years from now we will not be unified as a species, exploring brave new worlds, rather we’ll still be fighting our synthetic racial divides and protesting brutality every quarter century.
We share the most homogeneous code of any species on the planet and it has not evolved to thrive in this overfilled, boiling pot. I fear we will continue to invoke change at a superficial level only to wonder a hundred years from now why we’re doing the same damned thing over and over again. We need to stop pointing fingers and implicating that that person is racist and that other is not, when this is but a temporary fix. We need to dive in deep and look to the source of these behaviors as functions of home, school, church, and the very foundation of cultures and nations and the social construct of our species.
Yes, we have to keep trying. That too is fundamental to our species. We keep working for a better world in which we reward unity over division, and the minorities at both extremes share power with the majority.