“I’ve had enough of danger
And people on the streets
I’m looking out for angels
Just trying to find some peace.” — George Michael
As I try to put together the pieces of the complex web we weave I begin to see a number of patterns. The number one arrow in the conservative quiver is fear. The fear of the “other” will do in most circumstances, but the most insidious fear is the fear of ideas.
We spent the last day or so talking about the fear of the immigrant. While I think there is credible fear of the immigrant themselves, most of that fear actually surrounds the idea of opportunity. That never gets wrapped up in its own packaging. Instead we attach the very worst to those coming. They are murderers, terrorists, drug dealers or mules. They are coming to steal our homes, our resources, and maybe even our women. Better not leave any beloved family pets outside because they might steal those too.
Drill down to the base of that well and you’ll find little to not justification for any of it. The most hilarious example was the Minnesota woman that was just sure that immigrants would steal her lakehouse…in Minnesota. These aren’t Canadian immigrants she was talking about. Mexican and Central American immigrants would steal her lakehouse…in Minnesota. Somehow common sense isn’t so common.
I also made mention of someone at my church praying for an end to critical race theory and gender affirmation in public schools. We shouldn’t be teaching these things. Except we aren’t teaching critical race theory and never have. They can’t even tell you what it is for crying out loud. Of course, the gender affirmations are another thing entirely.
A colleague just today complained about pronouns. Somehow we have conflated simply accepting people where they are and who they want to be with teaching people to be those things. Somehow being those things becomes conflated with grooming. Hearing this from government officials and thought leaders that have credible accusations against them for sex trafficking and sexual assault is like a bizarro universe where up is down, left is right, and right is wrong.
At the center of all of this is fear. It is fear of the other, but it really is fear that we exist in a zero sum reality. When one group gets more rights and more opportunities then rights and opportunities are taken from us. We cannot acknowledge that African Americans and other ethnic groups have had the legal deck stacked against them. If we acknowledge that then we give them more opportunities, more justice, and more tolerance. That would somehow mean fewer opportunities for us, less justice for us, and less tolerance.
Even if we were to agree to certain economic realities we would have to acknowledge the fact that not everything has to work that way. Justice doesn’t have to go to the highest bidder. Tolerance doesn’t have to bend to those that are already winners by a genetic lottery. We can all have justice. We can all have tolerance. We can all have love and be loved. There’s more than enough to go around as long as we break away from the shackles of fear.