Before you automatically shoot this blog down and not read it, I hope you do. I hope you give it a chance and keep an open mind. I hope you’ll think rationally, creatively and freely without judgement and without malice. It’s okay not to agree with people. It’s not okay to attack them because you don’t agree with them.
So a friend of of mine posted the following on Facebook the other day. I SHOULD have kept my mouth shut…I kept telling myself…keep on scrolling Chris…just keep on scrolling. You’re a white male, no matter what you say, you’re going to be wrong. Unless you say you are essentially the scum of the Earth for what your ancestors did and you want every piece of the Confederacy completely wiped off the face of the planet, you are going to be ripped to shreds. Of course, if anybody has read my blogs by now you know that I just couldn’t do that. This was my response. I will tell you now, I was not in a wonderful mood, I went a little overboard and I did apologize but I’ll clarify afterwards. My points are still relevant however and I figured, oh what the hell. I can only talk so much about caregiving, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want with it. I hope you read it all the way through and then read my follow up after, it’s the best part lol
My friend: “I’m so tired of arguing with covert racists online. If you think it’s funny to make jokes about the confederate statues coming down and the fact that they are offensive to an entire race and therefore should offend us all, please do me a favor and delete me. I can’t waste any more energy seeing a post and arguing about.”
My response: “I’m honestly torn. I have ancestors who fought on both sides of the civil war and I see them as part of historical record, not necessarily as part of racial divide. Unfortunately I feel the media has done (as usual) a wonderful job to make it a racial divide however. Part of me wants to say this is our history, embrace it, it’s who we are, or at least it’s who we were, it’s part of our country. Part of me wants to say it’s racist, it should come down. Other parts of me say, have you seen this statue? Have you been there? Has this affected you? How does this affect you? How is this oppressive? How can this be motivational? How can this be used as a memorial to not relive the atrocities that we saw 150 years ago? Question – Have you been to the Vietnam Memorial Wall? I remember going there as a child in 1st grade and I got one of those memorial bracelets. I wore it for years…and it really made an impact on me. Fighter Pilot Col. Peter J. Stewart. He is honored on Panel 6E, Line 12 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in D.C. I wish I knew what happened to that bracelet…anyways. I often wonder, what would happen if we had a much larger population of Vietnamese Americans in the U.S. Say…50 years from now and they saw that memorial as offensive. Would we take it down? I mean, as a child he was like a hero to me. He fought against communism. He fought to save our country. He gave his life, or at least, he was considered MIA, which was the same thing really…I wore that aluminum bracelet for years wondering where his body may have been over there. To me he was a hero. I often daydreamed about what it would’ve been like to fly into combat in a Lockheed AC-130 or an AC-47 Spooky or even an SR-71 Blackbird…man that would’ve been incredible. Now, obviously in retrospect, we “lost” that war. We did terrible things in that war too. TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO WEREN’T EVEN OUR OWN CITIZENS…So what if in 50, 75 or 100 years, the Vietnamese community demanded we take every bit of our Vietnam memorials down? Would it be ok? Because today most Americans see Vietnam Veterans as heroes because they did help stop the continuation of communism and they did some pretty terrible things to do that and at the time it seemed like the right thing to do but we have the luxury of being able to look back and judge them on what they did but they don’t have that luxury. Most of them were drafted, they were following orders. It was war. So was the civil war. Not saying it’s right. “War is Hell” – William Tecumseh Sherman – He was actually a Northern General for anybody who doesn’t know who according to legend burned Atlanta to the ground during the civil war…well…he did… but it was mostly his troops who were just out of line. He did believe in all out war though or “hard war,” and he made every southerner in his path pay for what he believed they started. He also was a big help in ending the war. But I’m getting off track, see I don’t see it emotionally. I look at it logically. I don’t see it as black or white (regardless of what people may think of that because I am white) I want to see both sides and think that there is a place for our history and that there is a line where we have to say, no, we do not idolize these statues, these represent where we were and where we are. If we take them down, are we disgracing what the union soldiers also fought for? Again, I have ancestors who died fighting for the freedom of slaves. I have the right to speak for what they believed in and I think in some aspect they would want their enemy to be memorialized as the assholes who lost the war. Should we bleach our history completely of what we don’t like? I have to question things, I have to investigate and not just listen to a single news source and make a decision or make a decision about something based on emotion because it’s the history of our country and it’s a country that will (hopefully) last for centuries to come. Artisans created these works of art, yes, they are statues, yes it is art and to some people they represent hate but still it is art and to destroy art is in my opinion the epitome of irrationality and ignorance. Art is art. It belongs somewhere. I know there were plans to relocate many of the statues. I’m fine with that. You won’t find me with a stupid tiki torch over that. I prefer my tiki torches next to a pool. However, here’s my issue. The same amount of people that died on 9/11 die every two weeks from heroin overdoses in the US…nothing is done. We have homeless children not being fed or educated, yet nothing is being done…thousands in Seminole County, FL alone… I live in Brevard County, FL – one of the hardest hit counties in FL from the opiate epidemic, where is the outcry? Nope. Statues. Old. Fucking. Dead. Men. Nothing about people who are still alive and suffering RIGHT NOW. We have a corrupt government influenced by major pharmaceutical companies, the DNC just got off the hook for literally giving Hillary Clinton the election and burying Bernie Sanders, nobody cares. These are matters that are pressing right fucking now. Not a statue of a general who died over 100 years ago. That’s a cop out. That’s an easy battle to fight because there’s no real enemy. There’s no real fight. I don’t feel like people are willing take up arms against things that are real anymore. Where is the honor in fighting against something that really exists? Anybody can take a hammer and chisel to a statue. Try taking a hammer and chisel to congress, to the senate over how we treat immigration, how we treat senior citizens and social security, how we are currently handling health insurance and pre-existing conditions. Why the fuck is my dads chemo 150 fucking thousand dollars a year? Sure, medicare pays for some of it but why is it 1/3 of the cost in the UK or even free in many countries? SO please tell me why in the hell are we arguing over some god damn statues of dead people when people are dying every day right now in our country, people can’t get jobs, people can’t afford, food, people are dying from heroin by the thousands and people complain about things that have long since passed? What’s done is done. I personally would prefer to fight for the future and not the past. That’s a real fight. That’s something worthwhile. My ancestors are dust in the ground and honestly I don’t really give a shit about what they thought about, what they fought about or what they felt about or who they fought for but I do care about the 10+ people I know who overdosed on opiates since January and I care about the fact that nothing is being done to help solve that issue. Black, white, asian, fucking Vulcan, it doesn’t really matter to be honest. So when I see riots or protests, peaceful or violent from either side, honestly it makes me sort of sick because of how stupid I personally think it is. I’m not being racially insensitive. I’m being humanistically realistic. People need to grow the hell up and see the world for what it really is. Now, I love you all. You’re wonderful people. Good night.”
See, I even said they were wonderful people and that I loved them and told them good night and somebody had the audacity to report that comment and all of my following comments as spam to Facebook so that nobody could read them except for me and my friend who made the post!! Such an insult. Yes, I realize I was swearing, I was steamed up. In the context however, and knowing this friend I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. She of course called me a racist, I was told that I wasn’t being empathetic, I was told that I needed to be more sensitive to the nature of the situation, I was told that since I was white there’s no way that I could relate or understand the situation (ironically she said that she could…she is also white…so little confused there but whatever lol) I was told that since I’m a white male my life is way easier than it is for other people etc etc. Now, I’m not saying I disagree with how people might feel about these statues. But first off, how can one tell me that my life is easier if I am banned from having any sort of thoughts on how another persons life is? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? I have lived a very difficult life as a matter of fact. I believe that regardless of the color of somebody’s skin, or gender, all people have the same capacity to suffer in one way or another and to be told that I am not allowed to understand somebody because they are different from me just doesn’t sit well. Especially if the person who is telling me that says they have that ability but is literally no different than me except for gender. Obviously I can’t completely understand, but I can try. I can listen. I can be open and understanding and I can be open because that’s who I am as a person. I want to help people so much so that I am making a career out of it. But the assumption is automatically made that I don’t want to, that I can’t that I won’t. I feel that is the problem. It’s the expectation, it’s the pre-conceived notion that white males are automatically racist or bigoted or have it easier than other people do. Do white males get paid more? Yes. Do they typically excel in their careers faster? Yes. Are there benefits to being a white male? Yes. Does that alone mean that their lives are any “easier,” or “better,” no. It’s not a quantitative measurement. It’s qualitative and you can’t measure quality based on quantity. I’ll say that again, people want to measure quantity, money, acceleration, things that can be seen but or done mathematically but that does not equal happiness nor does it equal how “easy,” somebody lives their life. I’d also like to reiterate, who has the right to judge? Of course, I realize sitting here typing this people are literally thinking “He has no idea what he’s talking about, he’s a white guy, he has it so easy.” All I can think of is that I wish you could step into my mind for a day. Switch consciousnesses for a day, switch lives for a day. Not only so you can see that it isn’t “easier,” but also so that I can better understand your life! You may be surprised just how many white males feel this way but when we say it, we’re chastised for thinking that we are better than. Either way, we lose. That does not make our lives easier or better. That is not what I call a privilege.
I’d like to point out a few things as to why I feel the way I do about the current situation if anybody is still reading at this point lol An asian man, ASIAN MAN named Robert Lee had to change where he was announcing a football game because ESPN was “afraid for his safety?” They stated that he was in agreement with this, I don’t believe he’s come out on record stating any of it but, ya know, okay. Yes, I am sure he was really in the crosshairs of somebody because of his name…Please…that’s a bit much. And now, a horse. A damn horse is being considered racist. At USC, their Mascot is a white horse named Traveler. General Robert E. Lee’s horse was named Traveller so now, the horse is deemed as a racist symbol. I mean…where does it end exactly? The college’s mascot is a Trojan Soldier on a white horse…When is there a line drawn where somebody says, “It’s the damn name of the horse! That’s it, that’s all it is! Please, for the love of all that is good and right and holy in the world, just leave the horse alone!” A horse. A freaking horse. So much time and energy spent on the name of a horse.
I find it difficult to support a movement that doesn’t truly have an actual premise. It’s all out chaos. Example, Martin Luther King Jr. led a revolution that gained a massive following which included people of all colors because he was a model, a dignitary if you will within our own country and solidified and unified a group of people and created a voice for that group. Right now, BLM or the Alt Left or Liberals which, by the way, I disagree with all of those names as they are a very broad generalization and when you generalize people into groups, it becomes a very dangerous situation – however, due to the nature of the situation, there is no specific terminology to use in order to actually refer to anybody specifically and that goes for the conservative set as well. KKK? Alt Right? Far Right? What exactly does that mean? Well apparently now if you’re a Donald Trump supporter you are now considered a racist. As a racist, you are part of the KKK. Makes sense right? No, these are called “logical fallacies.” You cannot make the assumption that because an individual thinks Confederate statues shouldn’t be removed that they are racist or racially insensitive. It just doesn’t work that way. Nor can you think that they should be removed that they are hippy pot smoking liberals either. I have to wonder how it got this far, I often sit and think, how, when, where was the first shot fired that started all of this and kept the ball rolling to the point where the name of a horse of a college university is under fire and an asian dude was reassigned to a different location because his name was the same as a man who lived 150 years ago.
I’m saddened by everything that’s happening. I had to spend almost an hour proving to a person I’ve known for over a decade that I wasn’t a racist or a bigot or some sort of hateful, insensitive person, simply because I have a respect for history and feel that for me personally, I believe there are more pressing matters that I feel should be tended to. This is what it has come to in our country and to me we are already in another civil war, we just don’t have the same ability to fight each other as we did 150 years ago. With the change in technology, change in our culture, we don’t use smooth bore muskets, we use Facebook and Twitter, we use words that cut like knives and are forced to defend our beliefs and yet we put ourselves in that position willingly most of the time. I suppose we wear it like a badge of honor. Some of us hide in the shadows and share our thoughts with those who agree with us like secret operatives, some of us troll others on the internet like snipers and others blatantly attack others in the streets as literal foot soldiers. Simply because of a difference of opinion. Fear and Hate. I focus on that quite a bit in my blogs because I feel it’s such a big motivating factor in our lives. Humans fear what they don’t know and hate the fact that they fear it. The media stirs the pot and when it boils over they livestream it and turn an isolated incident into an event that affects an entire nation of people who had nothing to do with it but now are so emotionally charged they will beat the drums of war harder and louder than ever and all it took was a 20 second video clip and a two minute news report repeated over and over again.
My political beliefs do not need to be shared on my blog because they are not important nor are they relevant here. I fear that things are going to get worse before they get better though and that scares me, a whole lot. As a white “privileged” male, I often wonder how much longer it will be until I become the target. People I know for over 10 years are already coming to question who I am as a person, my integrity, and my morality simply because of a difference of opinion. That is a scary, sad, frustrating and immobilizing feeling.
I will end with this though. I made a decision a very long time ago to dedicate my life to help others. Not by taking down statues or leading people into a sociological revolution that has no leadership or structure or anything of that nature. I decided to use the experiences I’ve lived through to gain professional education and experience to help people through addiction, through mental health illnesses, through government lobbying if I can make it that far and try to make an impact on the future, not the past. These things all have to do with the human brain and the human brain is made up of a lot of grey matter.
Grey Lives Matter. That’s what is important to me.