When considering our place in society, we would have to be aware that we co-exist with others. How we co-exist, particularly in a free society, is an individual choice. The healthy individual will have developed a balanced mental attitude which recognizes the welfare of themselves and others. Neither superseding the other.
As I observe humankind currently and historically, there appears to be a progression, albeit at a glacial pace, of our over-all maturation as beings. For however we consider the events of now, we must concede that they are an improvement over times past. For some of us this may provide a glimmer of hope, for others none at all. At the risk of being over simplistic, the previous may exemplify the difference between the glass half-full and the glass half-empty folks.
If you tend toward a more optimistic view of life, you may appreciate all of our incursions into peaceful, respectful and cooperative social behaviors; not being complacent, but continuing to look for all opportunities to better ourselves and encourage others toward their best selves. If you lean more toward pessimism, you may not at all appreciate the more positive growth of humanity, but focus primarily on our lack; seeing where we have failed and not at all on any of the improvements we have made over the course of time.
Every step we take as a whole improves us all. Many of these begin as individual steps within a specific group, expressions that are relative to that perspective. If we are alert, we can benefit from observing these expressions, widening our outlook by considering points of view other than our own. By looking for ways in which we may find commonality, we strengthen society. If we are always looking for opposition, we will almost certainly find it, and continue to block our growth or worse, weaken our society.
Every individual and group of individuals who share common purpose, will be alert to that which serves them best, and to that which inhibits them. It is natural to encourage beneficial life enhancing factors and discourage or change those that are impeding us. We can trace historically, the various processes of change that have occurred throughout the world resulting in our current state of society. Each reflecting an element of necessity underlying the greater good for the majority of people, and if observed carefully, illuminating the positive steps and that which continues to call for further improvement. Very many examples regarding all aspects of life could be sited.
When we primarily choose to look for the differences between us, defending what we believe to be best for us, disregarding its influence on others, we cannot possibly be interested in a healthy society. For “…A house divide cannot stand.” (Thanks Abe). This essay is the result of the development of two social turning points that could have been opportunities for the unification of ideals, but instead, became standards for division.
In 2013 Alicia Garza reacting to the acquittal of a white man accused of the death of a young black man here in Florida, wrote on Face Book, “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter. Black lives matter.” Picking up on that post, Patrisse Cullors added #Blacklivesmatter to the world-wide-web. What could have been a collective recognition of the continued prejudices that remain intact in our society, the concept of Black Lives Matter became offensive to some. I may be going out on a limb here, but I am certain that the inference of “And, no other lives matter but the black ones,” was not intended.
Beginning in the 2010’s, the term Woke was being used in politics and social activism. It was a rallying point for those who desired to reduce racial prejudice and discrimination, and came to encompass all social inequalities, including sexism. The Oxford English Dictionary included that definition of the word in 2017. Rather than it being another opportunity for unity, it became The current phrase utilized to exemplify our differences. Worse than that, it has been weaponized to beat back societal growth, beginning with altering history to prove the righteousness of those who wish not to see the inequities of humanity past and present. Or at the very least, feel that it should be de-emphasized or not even considered.
There are those on both sides of the issue of inequality that flame the fires. Statements regarding the discomfort of white people regarding difficult subject matter, in no way improve the situation; any more than the disregard for policies that are purposely designed to segregate and create inequality. Read Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law as an example. All men and women are inextricably tied to one another. John Donne’s “…don’t ask for whom the bell tolls,” essentially states that all lives matter, and they should matter to all.
We all see what we are willing to see, and only see when our eyes are open. When sleeping, our eyes are closed. Our eyes are open when we are awake. So, wake up, you will be better able to see. Look wider, look further. Take it all in. See what you haven’t seen. Awaken and you will be Woke.