At the risk of sounding like an “All Lives Matter” a$$hole…..this seems like an exceptionally insidious meme-before-there-were-memes, with bonus irony points for the fact that it is an Army recruiting poster.
I’m certain there are much deeper roots to this than I can comprehend, and equally certain that they are tangled around themselves, choking off our potential for growth and progress.
If I ever run for congress, I would do it just to propose legislation to create a permanent American Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (except I would call it the “Commission on American Reconciliation and Truth.” because CART.)
Not some photo op or media stunt . The real thing, televised on C-Span in real time, for as long as it takes for this country to resolve our obsession with demonizing the “other.”
Whomever petitioned to be heard could take turns honestly expressing their (our) experience, directly to the people who have exploited, oppressed, suppressed and generally f*cked them (us)….while the F*cklords are required to sit and hear the impact of their votes and positions and gaffes and recklessness and brutality, in detail.
(I say we start with Dick Cheney, but that’s just me….or is it?)
I do not think I will ever be able to wrap my brain around the possibility that a human being — no matter how damaged — could sit in that experience and NOT cease to behave in ways that hurt others.
We can’t just brush. We must go for a deep cleaning. It might be a drag at first, but if you have ever participated in anything like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, you know what I’m talking about. It is transformational.
On the last day, we were in an auditorium at American University in DC, segregated by gender; men standing as a group on the stage, facing the women standing as a group in the auditorium.
They asked us to make and maintain eye contact with one person of the other gender while Marianne acted as the voice for the women, and Neale for the men, and they had a first person conversation….
…about the ways men and women are cruel to one another… the pain that men have caused women historically; the emotional wounding some men sustain, even today, from our bastardized criteria for “man,” and the pain we all have received at one time or another in our lives from the hands of people we believed we could trust.
When the list of harms seemed like it would never end, they took turns delivering specific, heartfelt apologies for each wrong, sincerely asked to be forgiven, expressed love and grief and loss to one another….while we all maintained eye contact with our “other,” living vicariously.
I have never experienced anything so powerfully human in my life….there was not one person in that room who was not profoundly moved. At the time, I remember thinking I had never seen so many men crying in one place.
We do not need more guns or higher fences. We need more empathy and higher expectations of one another.
Expectations are NOT a violation of some interpersonal law. They are the agreements we make to create a civil society…and the moment we abandon them entirely, we are adrift, in a country with more guns than people.
Empathy is mighty. Lack of empathy is dangerous, as we witness daily, and as we are bound to see more often, unless we begin to truly connect with one another.
The human race depends on it.