How do we respond to the increasing level of hatred that so many people have for others? How do we make sense out of Dylann Roof and the others who have opened fire on innocent Americans whether driven by racial hatred, ostracism from one’s peers, religious fanaticism, or the inexplicable lure of terrorist propaganda? How do we divest ourselves of the hatred some Americans have for others because of the color of their skin?
How do we keep law enforcement officers from profiling young blacks as criminals? How do we stop the greedy and unprincipled from wreaking havoc on the weak and the helpless for either material or political gain?
Everywhere we turn we see the growing antagonism that some human beings have for others and it places all of us at risk. Is there anyone, anywhere who can truly feel safe in this troubled world we share?
For generations, the majority of Americans have felt privileged to live under the protection of a constitutional democracy that has provided freedom of opportunity. Most of us spent our entire lives basking in those privileges, blind to the injustices suffered by minorities, some of whom were transported to this country in the shackles of slavery while others immigrated voluntarily in search of opportunities that Americans citizens—the progeny of earlier waves of immigrants—seemed determined not to share.
For the last century non-Hispanic whites have comprised a significant majority of the American Population. In 2014, US Census reports indicate that non-Hispanic whites now represent approximately 62 percent of the American population. By 2060 that percentage is projected to be only 43.6 percent.
The population of Americans over the age of 65 is also spiraling upward and by 2060 the number of people age 65 or older is expected to double from roughly 45 million today to 90 million.
The cost of caring for these people, our parents and grandparents will soar and place enormous pressure on the American economy. The ramifications of these demographics with respect to political control of our nation are staggering as it will no longer be possible for one segment of our population to dictate to another.
Our future as a democratic society will be dependent upon our ability to find ways to work together. If we can pull together within the framework of an “abundance mentality,” for our mutual benefit, there is hope for a bright and golden future. If we continue to pursue “a zero-sum-game mentality in which one person’s gain is perceived as another’s loss then we are doomed to a tragic end to the great American democracy.
Inclusion will become a categorical necessity but that will require that we find a way to set aside our hatred, bitterness, and resentment for one another. Unfortunately, we cannot legislate an end to the hatred in the hearts of human beings.
So, how do we transition from a world in which people who are different from us are perceived as a threat to our safety and prosperity to one in which we view each other as brothers and sisters of creation. How do we gravitate from a society of haves and have-nots to one in which we are guided by the Ziglar principle that “I can get everything I want and need in life if I help other people get what they want and need.”
If we are unable to work together as partners we will find ourselves pitted, one against the others, until there is only tragedy.
Racial discrimination and bigotry are nothing more than a high level form of bullying and the people who lash out in hatred are nothing more than bullies. What motivates a bully? Almost always, bullying is the response of insecure human beings who feel that people whom they judge to be unworthy are a threat to the bully’s social or economic advantage.
We cannot afford to waste one moment on things that we are powerless to change and complaining about our misfortune is one of the least productive of all human ventures.
We must hold abusers accountable, relentlessly, but this will never be sufficient. We must mitigate the disadvantages with which some of us are burdened thereby reducing the vulnerability of all victims of discrimination, bigotry, and persecution.
The best way to reduce the vulnerability of victims is to strengthen their self-esteem and the best way to strengthen someone’s self-esteem is to help them develop the tools they need to take control of their own destiny. Power to control one’s destiny is a function of an effective public education.
Education is key and our public schools are critical to our purpose. We must strengthen our public schools and public school teachers, not weaken them, and we must solidify the relationship between our public schools and the communities they exist to serve. To do otherwise is to widen the gaps that separate us.