What happened to the country into which I was born?
What happened to freedom of thought, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech?
Allow me to go back in history for a brief moment: March 1991 saw astonishing violence exhibited toward an African American, Rodney King, resultant from Mr. King’s decision not to pull over during a high-speed chase when pursued by Los Angeles Police Department officers. Officers were tried in a court of law for their excessive use of violence and three of those officers were acquitted, sparking the historical 1992 Los Angeles riots. Mr. King observed said violence and was upset at what transpired during those riots. What follows is a portion of his response to the ensuing actions and his plea for peace:
“I just want to say – you know – can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? … It’s just not right – it’s not right. And it’s not going to change anything. We’ve got to quit – we’ve got to quit. And uh, I mean please, we can, we can get along here. We all can get along – we just gotta, we gotta. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while, let’s, you know let’s try to work it out, let’s try to beat it, you know, let’s try to work it out.”
There is so much division in our country, division that has polarized families, friends, and neighbors and brought about a renewed and jarring brand of hatred and intolerance. This hatred thrives in both conservative, moderate, and liberal circles. We are all guilty. We are all intolerant.
This growth of intolerance toward those who have an opinion different from our own has got to stop. Even if I am diametrically opposed to the opinions of others, the core of who I am must allow for at least an openness to hear from those whose core speaks differently. Listening doesn’t mean converting; it means allowing others the freedom to believe what they believe but only as long as such beliefs don’t promote actions or words that denigrate and ostracize all of us who are struggling to survive in the very limited time we have on this Earth.
There will never come a time when all individuals on this earth are in 100% agreement, but the need for discourse is emergent.
We all have opinions that lean one way or another, but strong leanings should be just that: a leaning that still allows for flexibility so that jointly we can work toward the betterment – rather than the tearing down – of our fellow man.
“I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while, let’s, you know let’s try to work it out, let’s try to beat it, you know, let’s try to work it out.”
Rejecting hatred and intolerance in all forms begins with you, and it begins with me … every day, for the rest of our lives.