Image from page 28 of .The gospel of slavery : a primer of freedom. (1864)
(Image by Internet Archive Book Images) Permission Details DMCA
The saying goes, "you're only as sick as your secrets." I can't think of a better introduction to my topic, our crazy U.S. culture. The secret? This by cultural historian Lewis Mumford, describes it best, "Wherever Western man went, slavery, land robbery, lawlessness, culture-wrecking, and the outright extermination of both wild beasts and tame men went with him." How can a healthy society grow out of this overt lawlessness?
Might it be that many of today's societal ills are a direct result of our failure to openly and honestly admit to the indignities suffered by indigenous peoples and human slaves done to them by the people that founded this country? For example, do we need a "truth and reconciliation process" like the one that brought some level of peace to the people of South Africa? Or the one going on right now in Canada in attempt to reconcile the horrors done to its indigenous peoples by Europeans?
You see, the problem is that until we can openly admit that our country's foundation is crazed through with injustices, we will all continue to be victims. Whether it be the Michael Browns or the people who kill them or the friends and families who suffer their losses; all victims of the same systemic illness we see, deflect, deny, project, and in every other way resist every day of our lives.
In this instance, race relations, it's easy to trace the illness back to our history of human slavery and the continuation of the dehumanization of black people. Dehumanization allows us to justify all kinds of crazy ideas when dealing with the object of our dehumanization.
Haven't you ever wondered how people can line up on each side of the issue and live with themselves even though deep down their own consciences tell them that folks on the other side of the same issue are right too?
Forgive me for being a bit too psychological but I think it's necessary to really understand what's happening. It's called introjection. It's the unconscious adoption by somebody of the values or attitudes of another person, whom he or she wants to impress or be accepted by. And who do we want to be accepted by? Our own, of course. And some of us want it to the extent of denying our own conscience.
It's hard to believe but today's events are shaped by a festering wound left over from our beginnings as a country. So we can keep arguing about events today and never reach a conclusion or satisfaction. Kind of like a bowl of spaghetti we can try to trace each strand back to its origin. Or we can admit to the truths of our inauspicious origins and take proper actions that bring about reconciliation and peace. In the case of race relations, we are treating one of our major diseases with band aids: Not a very effective treatment.
If we dismiss the small percentage of people, black or white, who will loot and riot over anything and the small percentage of cops, black or white, who are happy to dispatch a "perp," we are left with the real issue: our unwillingness to admit that our success as a young country and the creation of wealth in the early years of our existence were built on forcibly taking land from whole nations of people and the abomination of the slavery of other human beings. Our inability to admit these facts has morphed into our sociopathic methods of dealing with race relations that we see acted out in the news almost every day.
If we are only as sick as our secrets, how much sicker are we because of our attempts to hide a secret as obvious as this one?
Check out my latest book, Christianity in America, Friend or Foe. It's a compilation of 50 essays on the present day infiltration into our society of perverted Christian principles.