—-Barack Obama (eulogizing John McCain)
I know I spoke of McCain last week, but I think this is worth a bit more discussion. I have spent my entire life trying to figure out why people are judged by what they look like or who they love. It is not that I believe that every person is born with the same potential. For whatever reason, some are born with a higher intelligence level, some have more innate singing talent, and some can run circles around me in a mathematics challenge.
I have taught young people who seem innately evil and some whose kind ways shine like a beacon that leads them. I have taught those who were obvious overachievers, and those who let their talents fall by the wayside. I have taught those with strong, supportive families who have ended up in prison and those latchkey kids who have ended up in positions of high standing in their communities.
I have seen students who thoughtlessly bullied others to the point of suicide, and I have watched others become victims of this type of destruction. I have read of people who jumped in front of a bullet to save a stranger and those who delivered the bullet that killed a friend.
One thing stood out to me throughout my life of observations. People of every race, religion, nationality, sex and sexual preference fit into every one of those categories.
African Americans aren’t more violent, Hispanics aren’t all illegal immigrants, Asians aren’t all mathematicians, gay people aren’t all trying to convert straight people, and caucasians aren’t all more deserving of what our country offers. Each group of people is represented by the good and bad that humanity has to offer.
Why then do some people display hostility to those who look, act or think differently? I believe fear plays a big role in biased behavior. We tend to fear the unknown, and there are people who use their power to manipulate those fears into crowd mentality hatred. It is natural to try to find someone or something to blame for a tragedy or hardship we might encounter. If we can point the finger elsewhere, we remove the blame from our own shoulders.
It is also easier to believe all people of a certain group are the same, than to take the time to recognize the difference. Just because we find that one immigrant was responsible for a heinous crime, that doesn’t mean that they all should be feared, any more than all chefs should be boycotted because Mario Batali acted inappropriately.
We are all born with different potential, to different families and in different environments. We learn differently, look differently and react differently. One thing should remain consistent in our country though, and that is indeed that all of us are created equally and are promised certain unalienable rights. The best way to ensure that all people are afforded those rights, is for each of us to accept and act upon that belief, and that we make sure that we elect representatives who will protect us all equally.
No one does a better job displaying what can happen when these rights are trampled upon than Ronald Balson in his books that take the reader into World War II Germany. In his latest book, The Girl From Berlin, Balson once again captures the horrors of that time without depicting gruesome concentration camp scenes. This book should definitely have a place on your bookshelf.
As always, a complete review of this book follows my blog.