Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Listen and learn....Our Lives depend on it!

For many years I've pondered how good and decent people can be swept up in a wave that enables mistreatment of fellow human beings. In our own nation, the Declaration of Independence said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And yet, many of our beloved founders were slave owners. It took a bloody civil war to end that peculiar institution.
Then another hundred years followed with entrenched inequality. The civil rights movement attempted to move us to higher ground but another half century has proven that hearts are difficult to change. We are a clannish species and we have been taught to love hierarchy. If we are fearful of loosing our position or desire a better position, we will step on someone's back. We will oppress others believing we are then lifted or protected.
There's a very good documentary about the KKK that's worth watching. When the KKK was at it's peak, I wondered, why did so many people want to join? Good and decent people were caught up in the KKK. While we think of it as a terribly racist organization, there was and probably is, an underlying message that resonates with people who feel dis-empowered. It's good to understand why. We should not dismiss associations as meaning the people are bad people. There is an important thing we need to understand about why they would go this path.
We need to understand these things.
How did Joseph McCarthy create a powerful committee that trampled civil liberties and destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans? He created the "Red Scare" that generated black lists of proposed communist sympathizers whose careers were decimated. One person is credited with turning the tide of information and the path toward sanity. It was the courageous effort of a journalist in this one broadcast. In our age of emotionally packed soundbites, it's hard to imagine an audience willing to watch and learn.
That's not a new weakness of humanity. Creating messages that grip emotions and lead masses down an ominous path has been done before. Once we become emotionally attached, the connection is hard to break. Good and decent people will follow. We need to understand why. We need to reference history. We need to understand.
We need to understand how an entire nation could be taken down such a terrible path as happened in Nazi Germany. Good and decent people were turned against an entire segment of their own population. They turned a blind eye as neighbors and community members were taken away. They were not bad people but were too easily led down the path of darkness.
We are witnessing the evolution of sweeping darkness. The darkness began in a place few of us can understand, half the world away. We cannot overcome darkness by creating something darker. We need to understand. We need to understand why. We need to shine a light.
Why are people joining ISIL? We need to understand why. Good and decent people can be taken down a very dark path. We need to understand that. That is the only way we will truly turn the tide. We need to create hope of a better path. We need to be the light.
We will never understand if we turn our backs to our Muslim friends and potential allies. We need to hear what they have to say. We need to listen. Our lives depend on it.

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