A group of our friends gathered recently, and the conversation, which originally began with a discussion about how we can demonstrate compassion towards others, evolved into the subject of endemic racism in our society.
We agreed that we all are susceptible to racial stereotypes, expressed both consciously and subconsciously. As we looked around our gathered circle, there were no persons of color to give us an informed perspective on what they are personally experiencing. In fact the very subject was approached in the terms of “us” and “them”.
What could we do about this seemingly intractable problem of true understanding? Ideas were expressed, which basically boiled down to “let’s meet with people of color and have a conversation.” The problem, which became apparent to some of us, is that no matter how profound our attempts at understanding and compassion might be for our fellow human beings, we can never truly understand what it is like to be inside their skin, of whatever color, and experience the slights and injustices and obstacles that they live with through no choice of their own.
We think that we do have an understanding, to some degree, but more meetings, and conversations, and volunteering, and mentoring will never offer more than a brief feel-good moment for us who do not have to feel self-conscious about how people, even compassionate people, are looking at us and treating us. So again, what can we do?
What we CAN do as citizens and voters is to try to make sure that all the barriers to justice and opportunity, baked into our society, are torn down? This can be – must be, in fact - accomplished with enlightened and bold leadership in all our institutions – business, religious, social organizations, unions, and, yes, government.
I am retired, and am not clergy. I don’t belong to a social organization or to a union. But I do vote, and I can write letters to our newspaper editors, and I can work to help elect leaders in government – leaders who understand what it means to have a society with justice and opportunity for all. These leaders can be school board members, municipal supervisors, county commissioners and officers, state representatives and senators, members of the U.S. Congress in the House and Senate, and ultimately the President. All of these people whom we elect in our Democracy have a part in assuring that the values and ideals which we have come to understand as central components of a just and fair society are supported and enhanced.
When I review the words and records of most of the elected Republicans in county, state and federal office, I am both disheartened and enraged that somehow we voters have ceded the implements of governance to a party that has so far strayed from its founding ideals as to be unrecognizable, a party that is totally unsuitable for the age in which we live. This country works best when we pull together, in common purpose. For this reason, “now more than ever” (to quote a Republican slogan) we need to elect officials who really “get it,” whose values and ideals are consistent with what our nation is and what we want our nation to be. For this reason I will do my part, by writing letters, talking to neighbors, and voting for Democrats like Scott Wallace for Congress, Steve Santarsiero for PA Senate, and Perry Warren for State Representative on November 6. I urge anyone who will listen to do the same. THIS we ALL can do.
Joe Sundeen, Lower Makefield