A Response from a bystander
Mr. Greene

We Are All Bystanders

Thanks for the third viewpoint which draws from both stories and from another individual experience. Of course it is true that we all have our own unique perceptions, prejudices and preferences and it is difficult to adjust that complete mindset, every other view is inevitably an attack upon one’s core being and one is automatically defensive. The original piece to which I was responding was written with a deeply held belief in the schism between two parts of society in a country riven with “racism” (I detest that term).

I have been amazed at all the reactions to my response which I tapped in just to tell one person how wonderful it can be to live without the worry of a defined history. I believe the original author feels she is incomplete without an inherited culture whereas I feel that I define myself.

I think my point was a statement of the freedom I have always felt; freedom to be myself. I know many people, particularly teenagers and young adults, are constrained, either literally or emotionally, by their parents’ culture and personal history but for several identifiable reasons, that never applied to me so I am not able to fully appreciate the consequences of not having access to those historical links.

I do understand on an intellectual level that the lack of such a connection is disturbing for that woman, she clearly states her disappointment in both the absence of an inheritance or heritage and in her father’s inability to talk about the issue. On an emotional level I cannot empathise because I switched my thinking so long ago that it would be akin to suddenly changing my beliefs to include the idea that the moon really is made of cheese. In her case I am reminded again of the US President: a black man became president of the USA! And the world erupted on both sides of the racist divide. I however, stood firmly in middle. Mr Obama is not black. Mr Obama is not white. Mr Obama is that excellent being so well suited for his elevated office: an intelligent, educated, clever, wise and witty, well-read, well-spoken, entertaining human male. He is tall and slim, elegant, sophisticated, urbane and polite. Mr Obama is persuasive and passionate, he has married a beautiful woman and produced beautiful children who are also not black nor white.

I have no idea whether Mr Obama believes he has a heritage though I believe he is building one for his family and for the entire country and especially for those like him who are human without extra definitions.