Extremes Kill

Yes it’s Friday and I am a day late.  My bad.

No niceties today… I am jumping directly from salutation to topic.

Addressing the issue of racism continues to be very uncomfortable for me.  It feels like I have stepped into a societal blender and at any moment someone is going to get touchy and push the ON button.

Click.   Whirrr.   Yaaaaa!

I enter the waters carefully but not hesitantly.  I know this is something I need to talk about if I am going to be true to my mental commitment to the crying girl.  I had lots of appropriate reasons not to reach out to her the day I saw her on the street, but I have no excuse to not address the larger issues.

The only way to approach the issue sanely is to target my remarks to a defined population.  Let’s face it, racism is an extremely volatile and emotionally charged issue.  And where there is teeming emotion, extremists flourish.

Extremists are those who reside on each end of the continuum.  These are the people that are locked in their beliefs, unshakable in their opinion, and rabid in their hate.  One hopes that light will pierce darkness but they are neither my focus nor effort.

My focus, as I write, is the 70% in the middle ground who are people like me that genuinely seek truth and unity.  There is no question we are on different points on the continuum but the key factor is that we are working toward the same end whereas the extremes are working in the opposite direction (polarization, distrust and hate).

An individual cannot conquer those on the hate and separate fringe.  It is the growing mass in the middle that reduces their ranks by encroaching on the territory on the edges.

One of the difficulties for those of us who occupy the middle territory is the challenge of staying above the chaos created by the exaggerations and lies of those on both ends of the continuum.  They poison the well of dialogue and thought in the attempt to undermine any possibility of the majority finding common ground.

There will always be those at each end of the continuum you cannot win.  But you can minimize their disruption by keeping their numbers low and the voice in the middle strong.

So to the 70% I suggest that we hang out and talk through a few things.  Hopefully I will see something I have never seen before and grow from this learning process.

If we are serious about this, something special can occur.  As we talk through “stuff” and come closer together, our hearts and minds will become more united and our voice grows louder.  The voice in unison slowly begins to dominate and change occurs.

For our examples we need to look at people in history that have tackled overwhelming challenges of this nature.  The heroes before us had to have thick skin.  The thick skin allowed them to crawl through the thorny dangerous underbrush and begin clearing a path.  These people could not allow themselves to be overly sensitive or impulsive.

Yes, this is a sensitive issue with lots of thorns.

As we begin to find our way one of the immediate thorny issues for me is terminology.  Seriously.  When I started writing about racism in the last blog I used the term “black”.  I immediately found myself backing off and becoming tentative.  I didn’t know if “Black” or “African-American” was the appropriate term to use.  If is there another descriptor that would be more appropriate, let me know.

Side Note: Tentativeness is a killer of progress.  It kills any attempt to crawl through the underbrush.

Tentativeness causes one to choose my words so carefully that the message becomes so vanilla that the point is lost.  I must be attuned but I must not allow myself to worry I am going to offend.  My heart is right and if I say something that is insensitive or wrong please correct me.

Terminology is just one of many issues that illustrate the complexity of the issue.  I must not be tentative as I jump in the fray.

Yes, I know that I am leaving you hanging but I have to go.  Hopefully I will see you Monday.


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