The wonderful thing about being the author of a personal blog is that there are very few restrictions to what you can comment about. On the other hand, that is what also makes them have the potential to be dangerous as well. What I am about to talk about may be a controversial subject to some, offensive to others, and maybe even thought-provoking to even more (that would certainly be most ideal). In any case, I have carefully taken the time to not rush into these thoughts during a highly sensitive time we are in. However, I feel I would be remiss if I do not share what is on my heart to. So, without further delay, here we go.
As somewhat of a social media savant, I saw many things over the course of what can be described as a political battle for the presidency of the United States. Some of these things chased me away from what I consider to be the two main forms of social media, Twitter and Facebook, for days at a time. I had to remember that I am also a leader of young people so I needed to pay attention to the gist of what was going on, despite my disdain for it. The more I thought about it as the weeks went by, the more I realized that the lack of depth in many people’s consideration of things is the very thing that has plagued this country for hundreds of years. What I mean is if you break down the significant battles over religion, race, gender valuation, freedom, etc., they can be traced to the root cause of what I term “shallow-end thinking.”
A swimming pool that has both a deep and shallow end is still but one pool, but has very different connotations. Those that spend most of their time in the deep end are thought to be more skilled, experienced, and trained. Consequently, they are more prepared for the depth of the water that particular end of the pool presents. In opposing fashion, those that cannot dive into the deep end for fear of drowning are thought to be less skilled than their counterparts. They look to the shallow end as a place of comfort; if they get scared for one reason or another, all they have to do is stand to recover. People will drown in the shallow end (heck or even in a few inches of water in a bathtub) because carelessness often accompanies comfort.
In the months and weeks leading up to and even to this day, I see and hear many drawing the presidential race as one of black versus white, good versus evil, or rich versus poor. All of those may describe in some aspect the race, but alone are far less than adequate to capture its entirety. It was and is not as simple as black and white, but rather there is a broad spectrum of gray area covering this time. I saw what I believe to be many people’s true colors, hence the title of this piece, and there were several other hues than the two.
I saw more red than ever before. In fact, red used to be my favorite color until this time frame. This red was one wrought with anger and wrath. A crimson that made me ashamed of some of the things I heard and read. There were those bold enough to recklessly use the n-word to describe the elected leader of this nation. Many demonized, demeaned, and dishonored this man based solely on the perceived color of his skin. Conversely, many American people of African descent took to the World Wide Web to declare their love for “our” president, with a great number reaching that conclusion based on the fact his skin tone was closer to their own. I saw many posts like this one, “my president is BLACK.” Or, “a black president is the fulfillment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.” “My” president? As only about 13% of the population, clearly he had to be more than one ethnicity’s president to win. I could go on and on, but they are generally variations of the same theme, that is, proclamations of a person’s ability to relate to another because of their pigmentation. I find both sides of this to be dead wrong. We know that it is wrong to refer to anyone as the “n-word” and were mad when Americans of European descent did so in total disrespect, but then some so-called black people used it as a term of endearment for “our” guy. We spoofed the president as 2 Chainz, a secret agent, the next MLK Jr. or Malcolm X etc., the whole time having a total disregard for his mother’s heritage as an American with primarily English descent. Does she not count? Considering he has hailed her as the primary influence of his foundational upbringing, shouldn’t she be more prominent? I guess saying “my president is half black” didn’t have the same ring to it. The fact is that none of us are black or white. We have taken these terms meant to demean and adapted them as proper terms. The skin has 3 main layers; the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue. Even further, the epidermis has 5 layers and the dermis 2 of its own. The element of the skin that causes pigment, melanin, is ONLY found in the basal layer of the epidermis. So, out of those potential 8 layers, only one has the chemical that creates skin tone, but that is what so many spend so much time focused on. 47% became a theme of the election, but no one talked about the 12.5% (pigment layers to non-pigment layers of skin) that much of the attention was given to.
Do not misunderstand me here; I understand that culture is important, but I contend skin tone does not govern culture. There are those that will argue that the American of European descent did not believe that way when they enslaved so many over the years and I would certainly agree, but then those wronged then cannot perpetuate the same shallow-end thinking that caused their heritage so much grief can they? Think about it this way, if a large number of people had risen up if Romney had won and said, “My president is white!” Or, “I voted for Romney because he was white!” People of African descent everywhere would have been calling them racists and bigots, but yet that is exactly what I saw in reverse. There can be justifications of being proud made, but they don’t hold water to me. Where is the celebration of a man having the wherewithal to win such a huge race regardless of what he looks like? MLK Jr.’s dream was not fulfilled in President Obama winning in 2008 or again in 2012, his dream was fulfilled in that he had an equivalent opportunity to do so. He certainly would not have wanted it to cause divides between friends, fights among co-workers, and verbal spats on a computer. That is directly against what he stood for as he marched and taught. That red anger displayed from both sides during and after the race was not initiated by the principle of what is right, but rather an engrained shallow-end thought process.
That leads right into the envious green that was clearly evident. Envy is simply a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc. There are those people whose very countenance shifted just because they couldn’t have “their” way without realizing the obvious point that the two main political parties that have been forced on us are much more alike than different. We are duped into believing that there is a real true choice in the matter and that creates animosity toward others. Think about this, there are approx. 312,000,000 people in this great nation, yet you had only two legitimate choices to run it (sorry, Roseanne was not going to win). That is .00000064% of the country having a chance to be its leader. That’s a choice? I hardly think so. The political process has been tailored from its inception and has narrowed to the two parties it is today. Instead of looking just beneath the surface of something, we again show the fear of the deep end and stick to what we know for comfort. There is no reason for anyone to be envious of having to make that “choice.” Wait a minute; did I mention that the popular vote does not determine the winner so the misnomer that every vote counts is just that, a misnomer? In fact, at the time when the election was called by pundits on the various news channels, the winner was trailing in the popular vote. What if you voted for the Tea Party or cast a write in vote? Did it count as well? Sure it counted in that you exercised your right, but to think it made a difference in the grand scheme of things is steeped in fantasy.
The final color I saw was the cowardice of yellow. People running to hide behind internet posts, usernames, pictures, and pseudonyms as they spewed at best ignorant rhetoric and at worst hate. There were those feigning some greater good message in order to simply get out lingering feelings kept inside. I saw those professing to be of faith afraid to confront issues directly related to faith by trying to separate something that was not ever meant to be separate. Trust me, I get that the vote was for a president and not a religious leader, but we all have to realize that the leader of every country sets the political and religious tone for that country. Also, if it were the case that the two should not be intertwined, why were there local and national religious leaders using their influence among people to try to affect the direction of the vote?
The fact is that the church as we know it is in some trouble. Look beyond the surface my good people. Soon it will likely be illegal for churches to speak out against behaviors they do not endorse or believe in. Many are already in big financial strains as banks are telling them “the president” is requiring re-submitting of mortgage loan paperwork as they gouge churches for 2-3 times what their property is worth. That can and will cause the leaders of those churches to seek more money from its people to survive, which in turn will cause the people to feel the strain in tune with their own economic struggles. They will likely feel guilt for being unable to help or turned off as the idea of churches leeching from the people is perpetuated even more across the country. It is feasible that a church’s non-profit status will be used against them for governmental control. They may be forced to support financially things that violate their very principles of belief or risk governmental intervention. President Obama was correct when he said America is no longer “a Christian nation.”
Under the surface, what are some things that we can also look at? Well, I will offer them in the form of rhetorical questions. What if the regime of President Obama is the fulfillment of the dream of one Margaret Sanger, who vowed to use the most educated and beautiful people of color to further belief in eugenics as stated in the infamous Jaffe memo and various other words she spoke? What if our fascination with black and white causes a repeat of the racial wars that existed in the past? What if the promise of increased taxes causes business owners to sacrifice people in preparation? What if the promise of reduced insurance costs causes companies to raise it in the interim so that those rates can be grandfathered in? What if we realize God told us to pray, but didn’t say that was all he told us? What if the church actually left the upper room and got out into the world and realized its collective power? What if we realize that although times have changed, principles don’t? What if we comparatively looked at the past 20 years and realized we were better as a society then?
I could go on, but the point is simple; shallow-end thinking leads to more trouble and hostility than just taking some time to look at the bigger picture through the eyes of faith…try it, I dare you.