Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I Would Rather See Hateful Hearts Toppled Instead of Statues. Toppling a Statue and not Changing Hearts is Meaningless

This is one post that I as the author will probably be considered an outlier in terms of being African American. Depending on your views, one might think that I have lost my mind, however, rest assured I have not.

This whole fracas, debacle, tragedy, foolishness or whatever you would like to call the sad display in Charlottesville, Virginia allegedly began over the proposed removal or taking down of a statue of  Robert  E. Lee, the Confederacy’s top general. I say allegedly because in my mind that was just an excuse for the hatemongers to launch their campaign. They were looking for a reason and found one.

Man wearing Arkansas Engineering Shirt
Now, this is where many will consider my view on this statue issue going south (no pun intended).  As one who is well versed in the history of African Americans and slavery in the U.S. and the Civil Rights movement, this view could be considered odd. I truly understand the symbolism of the statues and Confederate flags and other objects related to that period of time; I get it. I really do. But, what good is ripping down statues and removing flags when hearts are not changing? Whether the statue or flag is displayed or not, the hatred is still there. For me, the issue is not the statue or the flag, but the hatred.  Yes, by all means, the statues and flags are outward symbols of the hatred but they are nowhere near as destructive as the internal hatred that is still in the hearts of too many. In Charlottesville, the Supremacists/Nationalists/KKK or whatever they call themselves did not even bother to cover their faces as in days of yore. They were bold enough to show themselves full frontal to the cameras. Jobs and reputations be damned as they did not care who in the world saw their unabashed exhibition of hate. Some touting organizational logos/slogans such as the man wearing the Arkansas Engineering shirt. As with every atrocious act, i.e. lynching, slavery, etc. in the name of supremacy, Charlottesville was just one more example in our long history of pure unadulterated hatred and no removing of a statue or flag will remedy that. Once we eradicate the hatred, then we will stop building monuments and flying flags that represent hate.

Yes, visually it will satisfy many to not have to see the statues and flags as reminders of a so called day gone by (I say so called because it is not a day gone by, it is still today), but what good is having the visual reminder gone when the hate that caused the events and people who are being memorialized still exists internally within so many? So, ripping down statues and prohibiting flags are nice, but in my view purely symptomatic, symbolic and topical. The root of the issue [hate] is still not addressed.

As always I refer to one of my favorite people who walked the face of the earth, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said:
It may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also. So while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men. And when you change the habits of men, pretty soon the attitudes and the hearts will be changed. And so there is a need for strong legislation constantly to grapple with the problems we face.
We must all work to change the habits of men in order for attitudes and hearts to change. It cannot take two or more days for the President of the United States to give a half hearted, forced or "check the box," denouncing of acts that the group's leaders and organizers proudly stated were being done in his name and to fulfill his agenda of making America white, I mean, great again. The various groups had clearly heard, received and understood the dog-whistle(s) during the campaign and since.

So, this view may seem counter to many, but I will continue to care less about a statue or flag and remain more concerned with changing the habits of men in order for attitudes and hearts to change. I will continue to believe that hate will never win and that darkness cannot drive out darkness. I will continue to join others who are looking to be a light in a dark world. I don't give a damn about the labels of "Right" or "Left" or "Liberal" or "Conservative," as they are just labels that were created by man to divide.

I close with words of wisdom from our 35th U.S. President, John F. Kennedy:
Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable — and we believe they can do it again.
Our problems are man-made -- therefore, they can be solved by man.

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