Good people doing what?

triumph“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” has got to be the best quote that no one actually ever said. That aside, most of us are looking at ourselves in the mirror these days and thinking that we are good people who are wondering what it is that we are supposed to be doing.

About what? Come on, you know. We all know what is happening out there. We just don’t want to think about it.

For one, the election is only about thirteen weeks away now and we sort of hope this will mostly go away after that. Some of us support Hillary with enthusiasm, other accept her as the best choice and think she will be okay. Most of us can’t imagine that she won’t win. After she does, this nonsense will stop, right?

Photo published for Protesters plan to build a wall to prevent Trump from speaking in DetroitAnd the people you know who support Trump say it is no big deal. Oh, come on, you do know some of them. Acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, probably nice people too. They don’t go to the rallies and scream obscenities at minorities, and they like other things about him that you kind of understand. He speaks his mind, he’s not slick. They say most of his supporters don’t focus on hate and that Trump himself doesn’t really feel that way. He won’t really act that way if he’s elected. The nonsense will stop then, right?

Will it? The Southern Poverty Law center calculates that the number of hate groups rose by 14% in 2015. Former KKK leader David Duke has announced that he is running for the open Senate seat in Louisiana to stop the “ethnic cleansing” of white people. The New York Times has just published a compilation of uncensored expressions of hate from Donald Trump supporters at his rallies. You can view it here.

Okay, so maybe we do have a teensie weensie bit of a growing hate problem in this country. What is is that good men (and good women) should be doing?

I’ve been struggling with this question for awhile. It seems to me that one good start is to seek out objective sources of information. Independent fact checkers do exist. In aggregate, they approach providing actual truth. Then, when we have real facts at our fingertips, we need to share the information. We all need to vote our consciences and help others get to the polls to do the same.

I think we need a zero tolerance policy for demeaning humor in general, and particularly for humor that targets those whom are forced to play the game of life on a more difficult setting. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about check out the link.) We need to remove name calling from our speech patterns. Check out the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website on teaching tolerance. (Of course, they’d love a donation from you while you are there.)

change2We need to take a few slow breathes and say “this is not the world I want.” Whatever our personal politics are,  surely we can agree that throwing rocks at each other is a bad idea. As Gandhi said, we need to be the change we wish to see.

In 1770 the Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke did say “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one.”

In 1867 the British philosopher and political theorist John Stuart Mill did say “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

Okay, maybe neither one is quite as pithy as the fake quote at the beginning, but we all get the point.

 

 

 

Two enemies talking

Cronin1You never know what will make your day. Today it could so easily have been the angel food french toast that my daughter made for brunch, but as we were clearing the table she gave me a gift that brought an even larger smile to my face.

“Did you read the article I sent you?” No, I hadn’t. “It’s about a black musician who befriends KKK members and then they quit the organization.”  She knows that my novel z2 is about racist groups, and that I am fascinated in general by any person who manages to reach across a divide of hatred and create healing.

So I read her article from Liberty Voice  about Daryl Davis, member of The Legendary Blues Band and author of Klan-Destine Relationships, a book about the twenty plus ex Klan member that this black musician has befriended. The man sounds sincere and admirable, not to mention courageous.

All the people who have reviewed his book have praise for it, except for an odd review from a professional book review company, and they call the book a “futile and pointless volume”.  It is an oddly harsh review, and its shrill tone seems to be what is pointless. I notice that the book and reviews are from 1997, and the 2013 article sent by my daughter says that Davis is working on a sequel.

I hope that the sequel is good.  I hope that it’s well received. I hope that this man keeps on making all sorts of unlikely friends because we all need to learn to do more talking and less fighting.

Sad fact is stranger than fiction.

I made up Early Gulch High School, where much of the novel z2 takes place. I did not make up confederate officer Jubal Early, for whom the school is named. He is a real person who founded the Lost Cause movement after the civil war. This is a group that to this day glorifies the Old South and down plays slavery as a benign institution. I made up the outrage of teachers and students once they discovered that their school was named after such a person, but I like to think that real people would respond with the same indignation.

These students deserve better

These students deserve better

A friend recently sent me one of those petitions anyone can start at change.org. This one, submitted by Omotayo Richmond of Jacksonville, Florida says “Jacksonville is home to Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, named in honor of a Confederate general who infamously slaughtered Black Union soldiers who’d already surrendered and who was a founding member of the original Ku Klux Klan. The school got its name in 1959, when white civic leaders wanted to protest a court decision that called for integrating public schools.”

Sadly, five years ago the local school board actually voted to keep this school’s name. Have things changed for better in those five years? I sure HOPE so.

View Omotayo’s petition and consider signing it here. I just did.