Mind Matters — The Challenge, The Hope

A friend noted to me recently how Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, John Hinckley, Jr., to name a few, were all murderers who were taken into custody by the police. These white men were not killed; they were not even wounded. My friend is African American, but that should not matter. His point is well taken. How is it that these white men were arrested and lived to be found guilty of murder, while African American men and boys seem to be flagrantly killed for less than a misdemeanor.

I couldn’t bear to watch the footage of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a Staten Island policeman. He was selling cigarettes unlawfully; and, for this, he dies?! Meanwhile white collar crimes of mostly white males on Wall Street keep on without so much as a slap on the wrist.

This state of affairs can create an atmosphere of hopelessness and despair, especially in minority communities. There may also be, in the country, a sense of hopelessness about other news, for example, the kidnappings and killings abroad, or the rapes occurring on college campuses here, and the rapes on public transportation reported in India.

A great message of hope in a time that seems hopeless is the Mexican proverb (paraphrased): “They thought they buried us; they didn’t know we were seeds.” Sometimes the dark times of a seeming burial of the good is the hibernation and germination of new growth. Besides, what sometimes looks like the “good times” is simply denial of a darker truth.

We may long for the “simpler” days of I Love Lucy or Lawrence Welk, while forgetting the meanness of those times. Racial prejudice was a blatant given; rape, whether it be at the hands of a stranger, or an uncle, or a father, was not only not discussed, it was often the victim who was blamed.

We are still grappling with the destructive power of prejudice and the violence of power whether it be toward women or minorities. However, what was in the “good ol’ days” (good for whom?) accepted as the norm is now being questioned openly and publicly. This challenge of the dominant and dominating status quo is what is hopeful.

Indeed, what was buried and left for dead can be the sprouting of the seeds of change. This is after all, the season of hope.