I don’t support establishing a database of Muslim Americans or saying that we should automatically bar all Muslims from entering the U.S.
But I am guessing that a headline suggesting Trump might be right is going to generate some knee jerk reactions and that some people might make some assumptions about who I am and or what this post is about based upon it.
That is because we seem to have entered a time where fear and intolerance are living together in perfect harmony and that concerns me.
Too much of the discourse around me is centered on labeling those who disagree with us as being whatever the appropriate pejorative term is for their particular persuasion and not upon listening to what is being said.
Fear & Anger Lead To Bad Choices
My teenager and I have been engaged in a discussion about what the new Star Wars movie is going to be like and whether it will live up to the hype.
Early on I reminded I him that I saw the original in the back of a station wagon at a drive-in in 1977 and that I had to contend with three little sisters, two of whom screamed throughout the movie.
He asked me what that had to do with anything and I said that I wanted to remind him I have three times as many little sisters as he does so he can’t ever complain because I had it worse.
That led to a response about how my daughter is the equal of all three and that I just don’t understand she is like a Sith lord in her ability to wreak havoc.
I shook my head, recited the words below and said “repeat after me.”
I promise you the 8 year-old kid who watched the original in ’77 had no idea one day he’d use any parts or pieces of it in his parenting efforts.
Anyhoo, after we finished with the Star Wars mishegoss I sat him down and talked to him about current events and reminded him that fear and anger lead to bad choices.
We talked about Japanese internment camps and I reminded him we know people who were forced to live there and reiterated it wasn’t something we could support.
“Some people will argue about how some things happen because of the time and say you can’t understand what life was like because you didn’t live it. That is true to a point, but some decisions are indefensible regardless of time.”
He nodded his head and we covered a wide swath of topics that ran from some of the things that are happening on college campuses to terrorism and presidential elections.
“You can’t bury your head and say you don’t want to talk or learn about some things because they might be offensive or hard to talk about. You can’t label entire groups as being bad because of some people but you can’t fool yourself into thinking that if you are nice everyone will be too.”
That last part has gotten harder and easier to talk about because he is old enough to have a more sophisticated conversation and understand nuance better, but it is still tough to keep chipping away at whatever innocence is left.
What If Trump Is Right?
I read an update that asked what if Trump is right and suggested that people weren’t listening because they hated what he stood for.
I intentionally didn’t engage because the conversation was a cesspool of shouting and name calling but I can tell you in broad terms my feelings on it.
Life is not black and white but there are some principles I refuse to bend upon. I will not give into fear and believe that every person of XYZ race/religion is bad or interested in killing my family, friends, me or fellow citizens.
Nor will I let my belief in the good of man stop me from believing in the right and need to defend ourselves and others from those who would do us harm.
I won’t be a victim, a sucker or a bully.
I am not afraid to say that some ideologies and beliefs are superior to others but too closed to say that mine is the only way.
I saw a status update that suggested if we wanted technology to come up with a mutually agreeable solution to the gun problem we should ban the release of Star Wars until such time as it had been developed.
The punch line was something to the effect of “the nerds will have it worked out before the next Comic-Con.”
There are an awful lot of smart, talented and accomplished people out there. It seems to me that we are not using that brain power as well as we could be and that if we did maybe we’d have better answers to some of these issues.
But first we have to stop letting fear and intolerance drive the conversation.
Edited To Add: Some people think the headline is nothing more than linkbait. If that is all you got from this maybe I didn’t do as good a job communicating my thoughts as I wanted or maybe you just didn’t read it as closely as you could have.