What Ism Are you?

Racism is defined as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group.”

Patriotism is a “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.”

Conservatism is “the disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change.”

Nihilism is “total rejection of established laws and institutions, total and absolute destructiveness, especially toward the world at large and including oneself.”

Left. Right. Black. White.

These days, now both sides are raging against the machine, yet under the impression that their rage is against one another.

Rioting almost seemed the next natural step on this path. On both sides of the political spectrum people are lost, despairing, fed up.

To say this is about racism simplifies it too much.

I do not think what we are seeing in the public square is so much the fight against racism as it is the fight against life as we know it, because for many, their lives have become unbearable. If they knew the answers in the past, answers about a meaningful life, lasting love, trustworthy relationships, and unchanging truths, then competing philosophies drove these ideas out. The answers that replaced them have failed.

Why are people turning over statues?

These are the ones affected by the shutdown, to the street violence, to the instability of family and economic life and lack of upward mobility in America that has been building for decades. Those statues represented America, either “America the Beautiful” or “America built on her original sin.”

People feel betrayed when promises for improvement are made, but go unfulfilled. They were promised representation, a champion for their cause. Instead of an answer, they felt used for a vote, for a buck, for the attention of their eyes. They put their hope in something, the “ism,” and came up empty.

So, of course, those who have lost hope began to hate America, because it felt like America hated them. Hated them because they were black or brown or yellow or Christian or traditional or patriotic.

Our history is tainted with sin, because the patriots were not saints.

They were never honored because of their sanctity, but because they helped move us one step closer towards the ideal, an ideal we used to understand.

There are reasons we’ve come to this place. We can either continue to move into greater chaos or we can rebuild. Whichever way we go, we can never stay still. We either grow or weaken, we can never stay still.

First the problem must be diagnosed.

I think there are many out there who are facing hopelessness like never before. The future looks bleak, full of a virus, war, poverty, and injustice.

We cannot fight hopelessness from the top down. It has to start in the place closest to the heart, where we meet each other, face to face. It begins in the lessons we teach our children about the hope we have in our future. It stems from the actions we take in our lives that speak to a future of hope. It grows in the communities where we build for future generations, because we hope.

On it goes.

Why does our little rural oasis of Hughson seem quiet in all this unrest?

I suspect it is because in every interview about this town I have ever done, I hear the story of past generations and future generations, connected by pride in the past and hope in the future.

Optimism is “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome; the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.”

Know your “ism” and know that no “ism” hold the answers all the time.

1 Comment

  1. Bonnie says:

    Beautiful, thoughtful optimism, Kathryn! We do need to look at our own hearts and actions. I believe that we also need to find ways to repair the injustices of the past, when possible. Honest conversation and writing will always be a path to change. Keep that pen “sharpened”!

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