Today America: Do the Right Thing
I'm hoping we can see and understand that this concept of good is a "savior" complex. Perhaps once we do, we can move beyond it to really "do the right thing" for people. You know what...that is exactly what the definition of a democracy is all about. So, what did we do that we could have done differently?
As we head into another Fourth of July amid star-spangled banners, fireworks, hamburgers and hotdogs, cold one's and good old American Apple Pie (we are doing Cherry Pie and Ice Cream), it struck me that this symbol of freedom has come a long way. This symbol of freedom seen around the world has always "stood for good and for doing good."
Yet, what I find ironic, as I haul out the old fashion ice cream maker to make homemade vanilla ice cream, is that "doing good" in our country has disenfranchised and marginalized more people than the good could ever help.
Today, I think about the many "good" things done here in the name of freedom, and I become, quite honestly appalled.
Don't get me wrong and start telling me I can move somewhere else. The great thing about a democracy is that I actually get to have an opinion. And in my opinion, I want to find a way to help more people than I hurt. I want to find a way for us, through social and health justice help people live good quality lives, in whatever form or fashion that means to them.
Here's my list of some of the "good" things America has done on its own soil that in hindsight have hurt more people than it ever helped.
I'm hoping we can see and understand that this concept of good is a "savior" complex. And perhaps once we do, we can move beyond it to really "do the right thing" for people. You know what...that is exactly what the definition of a democracy is all about. So, what did we do that we could have done differently?
Created Native American Boarding Schools in the name of assimilation and "doing good" to create Native American children in the image of America.
Desegregated black schools in the name of doing good, only to destroy black schools and neighborhoods, when if we simply provided the same funding formulas, black inner-city schools could have thrived. And of course, if we had given textbooks that weren't handed down and ten years old our children would have thrived.
Profiled black and brown young men in the name of doing "good" and fighting crime and the war on drugs.
Profiled Muslim or Muslim looking people in America, in the name of doing "good" and to prevent terrorism.
Institutionalized people with disabilities for being different.
Criminalized interracial marriage.
Criminalized being gay.
Criminalized being able to be free and make choices for our own bodies.
I suppose I could go on. I don't need to because I think you get the point. I have lived and traveled around the globe, and I am always grateful to come back home. My freedom and my patriotism are tied to my need and my ability to do the right them, right here at home.
Why not do good? Well, your good is possibly quite different from someone else's definition of good. Doing good is steeped in bias when you want to help an individual or a community but, on your terms, and not theirs.
We always tend to believe the way we live is exactly the way everyone else should live. That's not freedom. That's not a democracy. That's not individualism. That is collective consciousness which is exactly what the European settlers were fleeing when they came seeking freedom. And are all the tenets this democracy was founded upon.
So, today as we celebrate the past and our independence, let's think about what independence truly means. It means my choices will always be different from yours. It means I can give you the freedom to live and think the way you do...and in turn want you to give me and others the same freedom.
Freedom isn't free if you restrict someone else. Today I celebrate the tenets of freedom that this country was founded upon. And hope you will do the same. Today and for all of our tomorrow's, let's stop just doing good. And start doing the right thing.