10.14.2008

"You are black and I am white... life's an eskimo pie, let's take a bite."

Week three of my confinement begins with a little more hope than week two did. I couldn’t even write about it at the time, because I was just too pissed off. Suffice it to say, I had to confront the intellectually challenged a little sooner than I expected to. It just amazes me that in the year 2008 there are actually people walking around who think it’s acceptable to use the word “nigger,” especially to someone that they barely know. I’m not such an idealist that I think those people don’t exist – I know that stupidity is the true plague of the 21st century, after all – but I tend to believe that in this day and age people are a little more cautious about revealing their true beliefs to total strangers. Not here apparently. I’ve discovered that certain areas of the building are subject to this vortex of stupidity and narrow-mindedness that just cannot be dispelled. I’m working on the theory that this building is just like the one in Ghostbusters -- it was specifically designed to harness the power of ignorance in certain areas. I’m keeping my ears open for anyone referring to themselves as “the Keymaster.”

In other areas, however, there is a semblance of sanity; or at least what passes for sanity to me (which I’m sure differs incredibly from the textbook version). The people in these areas give me hope that this place is not entirely a lost cause, and for that I am grateful. I don’t need to make a huge amount of friends; I just need to find a little niche of good people with open minds.

I think it’s a shame that most of this country still cannot embrace what is different. This entire nation is made up of different people who came from somewhere else, usually fleeing ignorance in their own home. Walt Whitman called us “the nation of many nations,” and it’s something that demands respect. Without such a vibrant pallet of colors, races, religions and creeds, what would this nation be? It would be a gap-toothed, tobacco chewing, ass crack showing ignoramus sitting in the back of his pick-up truck talking about white supremacy while scratching his balls, that’s what it would be. I don’t think that’s the image I want representing me. I’d rather be a quilt, made up of different fabrics and colors, of different textures and stitch patterns. Something made by many different hands, a collaboration. When I’m cold I can wrap myself in its warmth, and when I am weary its vibrance will lift my spirit.

I am so often frustrated by those who define themselves by who they exclude. I choose to be someone defined instead by who I include, because I think I’ll lead a richer, fuller life that way. If the only people I exclude are those who are stupid, ignorant and can’t find a way to be open-minded, well… I’ll still make out better, because the people around me will be so varied in interest and scope. We might disagree or even fail to find compromise, but we will learn from each other. That’s the beauty of open-mindedness, to see your point of view from another’s perspective. Maybe their perspective will change your mind, or maybe it will only reinforce how you feel. The point is that you’ll know another avenue, another road, even if you choose not to take it. That’s the only way to really enjoy life’s journey – to know all your options, and take the path most exciting to you. To only know one route and follow it because that’s what everyone before you did without question… that sounds like one of the circles of hell to me.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Nicely put. Rock on sister.