I always liked the piece from the movie Footloose (the first one), where the minister says if you want to sit in judgement of something, sit in judgement of yourself.
I think that’s a good idea. Every once in a while, we need to sit back and take a look at ourselves at the only mirror that matters.
I picked that up from a Catholic priest who was very old when I was very young. I’ve talked about Father Peter Verde before, and how he waded though Dachau prison as a guest of the Nazis. Dachau prison was a great place to cast out seeing differences between people. Dachau, unlike the death camps, was where everyone the Nazis didn’t like got sent. There were Gypsies sleeping next to college professors sleeping next to Poles sleeping next to homosexuals sleeping next to Catholic priests. Basically, we’re talking of a cross section of society living, suffering, and dying together.
My old friend taught me that when you looked at people that way, differences in skin color, eye color, etc. were trivial. He learned that God created man in his image, and that made God something so insanely wonderful that he was speechless. His lesson was that if you hate people because of differences, you’re hating God, and at the end of that is hate for yourself.
The other part is I know where my bloodlines come from. I joked once that my ancestors got run out of every decent country around (probably not an exaggeration). And in a new world, funny things began to happen.
Want an example, here’s one. Way back in the 1600s, one of the first Franklins in my family tree was half Cherokee. Her mother was Cherokee and her father was black. Where he came from, I don’t know. All I know is he became part of the tribe. What I do know is I have his DNA in my body.
Some of my ancestors were persecuted Jews, others fled from Ireland and England, and a few came over as indentured servants (fancy name for slaves). Others were already here waiting for them, and not always to welcome the newcomers with open arms. Still more fled the Middle East to get out from under religious and ethnic persecution.
Very early I began to realize I am the sum total of the concept of the Melting Pot. To look at any of my ancestors through the lens of their skin color diminished who they were and what they did. They did incredible things when I stop and think about it.
I’ve traced my lineage to almost every nation on Earth. About the only bloodline I feel safe in saying I don’t have is anything from eastern Asia (and it wouldn’t surprise me to find out I’m wrong about that).
I am the end result of hundred of years of different peoples.
I am awed by who they were and what they did, and I thank them all for who I am.
Getting off my soapbox, folks. Have a great day.