The Responsibility of the Free_II
With an examination of current events, I felt it necessary to again address the responsibility of the free.
Our focus is generally on the present. You see, here, in America needs are met (even if we sometimes struggle) and wants are just minutes away (people earning minimum wage are sending Instagram pics via their new iPhones). We are free to move as we please, to earn as much money as we can; knowledge and opportunity abound, despite seasons of setbacks. Life, for most isn’t bad at all.
We live in a country where for many of us the civil rights movement of the 60’s and the racially charged atrocities of years prior are mere points in history. Even the events of 9/11 are slowly being shadowed by other tragedies.
But just within the past several years a non-profit organization that I support, begin sending me pamphlets depicting human trafficking. No, this was not some third-world propaganda for which I could justifiably say: over there…not surprising. No these events were happening in the good ole’ US of A. Young girls, some as young as twelve, runaways mostly, were being sold as sex slaves. They were forced to perform with grown men who had an unnatural appetite for girls instead of women. For months these pamphlets arrived without fail. I did not respond. I thought things like this just don’t happen here and if it was happening to runaways…well…what can you do with kids who don’t want to come home on time and refuse to listen to their Momma. It was out of my experience, beyond my reasoning and therefore it could not exist to the extent to which they claimed.
It was not until I saw the depictions through television did I finally get it. It was real and furthermore the victims weren’t accosted by known pedophiles and obvious creeps. These were men who went to work every day; they were raising families and many had no criminal record at all. It just didn’t make sense to me.
My point you ask? Sometimes when events are above our experience or our line of reasoning, we try to justify why it happened. No, we need to justify it because anything void of logic or order we fear. If we cannot reason it out, how do we control it? It upsets the balance of things. It throws off our truth. It is unsettling, unnerving. It saddens. And what does it say about us and what we believe? If what we believe is no longer true, worst yet, was never true we are forced to question our judgment and perhaps examine the whole paradigm to which we ascribe.
Surely the victims must somehow be at fault.
Racial profiling. There is a society that believes this not a reality. Racial profiling is done by a select few and to a select few, they say. It is not common or a prevalent offense which would cause an upset to a general population. Black people always think the world owes them something. Arabs are just paranoid and feeling guilt about what happened on 9/11. Gay-bashing is not really bashing because these people are indulging in behavior that is an abomination to God and man and well…things happen. There is always a good reason behind the offense because to say that our actions are shameful, horrendous or evil, places us on a level with the barbaric. And certainly we, Americans are a far cry from barbaric.
But indeed these things do exists. Not because some overly sensitive angry black dude says that it is so, or some flagrant gay guy protests, but because thousands have been victims–thousands. Many go about their lives quietly and unassumingly and say nothing about it. They take hit after hit, quietly. The fact is most want to believe the best of people; they want to live life peacefully and without intrusion or spotlight. To address or speak up may mean they have to take action (the same action the rest of us refuse to take). To take action means we might fail. What if no one cares?
Hatred is real. Stereotyping and racial profiling are real. I would say that we should all just love one another. And that would be true. Indeed we should. But let’s take it from a different perspective. What is the responsibility of the free? It is our responsibility to ensure that all citizens are safe and respected. The protection from harm and evil applies to everyone. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
These injustices are not just an assault on the freedom of a few but a threat to the freedom of us all. Today it may be Blacks or Gays or Arabs or Latinos. Tomorrow it could be a new group of people.
Perhaps your experience has been different. Maybe you don’t have a hateful bone in your body. Perhaps your Black or White friends love all people. You have invited your Asian neighbor over for barbeque on numerous occasions. Or perhaps you’ve had a bad experience and now you don’t trust Whites or Blacks or even Jews. But to paint a label on a people and not simply a person is a great injustice.
It is our responsibility as the free to ensure that all are protected; no one’s right should be infringed upon. We must open our eyes to plights which are beyond our experiences–to see the world through different eyes. It is not just a right, but a responsibility.
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.