OWNERSHIP BY ASSOCIATION …

Gasoline, in my town, is now $3.00 a gallon (well, actually, $2.99 point 9 – I guess they can’t bring themselves to actually use the 3). 

I go back and forth on how much I should blame Joe Biden voters for the extra $15 bucks a tank I have to spend on a fill-up. It’s not like he sprung some weird policy on us that he didn’t talk about during the campaign. 

We all knew this was coming. At least those of us who are paying attention to such things, knew. Look, a few bucks extra at the pump is not the end of the world. Nobody’s saying it is. But do the Biden voters owe me some money?

How much do you blame a voter for the consequences of their vote?

When a bunch of half-cocked zealots stormed the Capitol building, on January 6th, I was actually personally attacked and personally blamed for the action, by some people on social media. Why? Because I had written about agreeing with several of Donald Trump’s policies and calling his comparisons to Hitler, nonsensical. 

I still stand by both things. 

If Trump was actually like Hitler, the Capitol wouldn’t have been stormed by the lunatic fringe. It would’ve been systematically taken over by a private, armed force not connected with the United States military. And the number of people killed would’ve been as many as it took to achieve the goal. 

But I digress …  

The point is, I want no part of whatever that was on January 6th. Period. I don’t know anybody else who does (or did) either. 

But I can still believe the election was funky (and I still do). I can still favor oil pipelines over tankers. I can still believe in lower taxes and incentivizing the making of products in the U.S.A. I can still believe Communism is bad. I can still believe China shouldn’t be allowed to manipulate their currency. I can still believe the Middle East peace deal was a pretty good idea. I can still believe the ACA should be overturned and re-tooled.  

I can believe all those things without owning the Trump tweets or the January 6th attack. Can’t I? Or am I on the hook for all of it, if I’m good with some of it? “In for a penny, in for a pound,” as they used to say. 

Is that true of politics? What about race?  

Now, in the third month of the new year, we have had two mass shootings in this country. One in Atlanta and one in Colorado. 

Every time I see some alert on the news, with the heading, “Mass shooter …” my stomach tightens up. I’ll bet yours does too. 

And as much as I wish my first thought was for the victims and their families, my involuntary, knee-jerk, inner-voice reaction is always the same: “I hope it’s not a conservative white guy.” 

Why do I wish that? Because if (and when) it is, we always have to have “a national conversation” for the next several months, on “race in America.” And all of us, who have nothing whatsoever to do with whoever that insane man was, get to be told all over again about our inherent, personal racism and our country’s national racism and all the racism everywhere that will only end once we have another national conversation on race and all the racism…like the last one…and the one before that. 

Meanwhile, the actual act that occurred may have nothing whatsoever to do with race or racism. It might. Don’t get me wrong. It definitely happens. But it might not. 

Either way, those of us who just want to live in peace with all races, keep our heads down, raise our kids and die old, don’t want anybody to be killed in a mass shooting…by anyone, with any kind of a gun. But for those of us with white skin, we always – and I mean ALWAYS – know when the shooter is not white. If there is any sort of “secret handshake” among white people or “coded language,” it is this …

We always know a shooter is NOT white when the news doesn’t immediately announce his race. 

This has become an eye-rolling cliche among white people and, so far, the only thing I have found that we all seem to agree on. 

Meanwhile, if (and when) a shooter is of some other race or national origin, we have to have the “protect against backlash” national conversation. Because, again…white people bad. Always bad. 

And don’t get me wrong. I got a lot of problems with a lot of white people. And they don’t get a pass from me if they are racists or murderers or rapists or anything of the sort. They barely get a pass if they clap on 1 and 3. 

But we all sometimes wonder, no matter what color our skin is, how much we have to own of the others of us with the same skin. That gets deeper than just voting. That gets into our culture and our actual personal interactions. 

And I would wager that every other race and religion and national origin other than mine, has some form of this same reaction, when they see someone who looks like them doing something horrible, that doesn’t represent them in any way.  

In the press conference, given by Atlanta’s Police Chief, following the shooting there, the motive of the shooter was said to be something to do with sex addiction. Who knows if that’s actually true. But this is what the shooter said. 

But that motive was soon turned to White-on-Asian crime, that then triggered the obligatory “national conversation” we always dread. And I, the father of an Asian daughter, was asked to sit and examine my motives yet again, with my eyes rolling so far back in my head I could actually see my brain rolling its eyes back in its head.  

Then, a Muslim man did a mass shooting in Colorado. And I’m still not sure where we are on that national conversation yet. But I’ll guarantee you there are some Muslim Americans right now, wishing that shooter had been a Russian or from India or anything other than the stereotype they are undoubtedly so tired of seeing. 

Because they probably feel like they are forced to own these things too. 

The only cure for all of these vicious cycles is one thing: individualism. 

Once you decide to see every single person on Earth as an individual, and not the group they may or may not be a part of, you get set free. You can be black and have a white friend, and know they are not out to hurt you. Or you can be white, and have a black friend, and know that they wish you well. And you can see images on TV of whites clashing with blacks and know that that is aboutthose fools on TV and it doesn’t represent your personal friendships.

If we start having to own everything in our history or every vote we’ve ever cast, we will be crushed beneath the weight of it.

I promise you my ancestors did some horrible things. Yours did too. I promise you there is somebody out there who looks like you or me, who is certifiably insane and means to do a lot of harm to the world. 

I promise you, you’re going to vote for someone who is going to take your breath away in stunned horror with their inexplicable actions. Then we all have to decide how much mercy we have inside us. 

My favorite quote regarding binding up those kinds of wounds, is from Abe Lincoln’s second inaugural address, after the Civil War. Instead of forcing the Confederacy to own it and take more of a beating than they already had, he simply said, “with malice toward none and charity for all …” 

That’s downright spiritual. 

And I’m personally going to think about that the next time someone loses their minds and decides to shoot up something, for whatever reason, and the news tries to tell me who to blame and what conversation must be had. 

While I’m at it, I’ll try to think about it the next time I’m buying overpriced gasoline.          

R

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2 thoughts on “OWNERSHIP BY ASSOCIATION …

  1. “The national conversation”. About racism, about guns, about the border, about anything and everything. I am SO tired of it. It’s never a conversation. It’s spouting and yelling and blaming and ugliness. What if we actually conversed with a goal of unity and solutions? Good read, as always, Regie.

    Like

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