Very thought provoking piece, LaVern.
Personally I think the bitterness we are seeing more and more of has always existed within our culture, out of sight like a dangerous riptide underneath seemingly quiet waters.
Why are we seeing so much bitterness being expressed now? I think the rise of social media has brought it to the forefront. Facebook and Twitter have been major platforms for everyday people to express their opinions. News media can then pore over social media to get an idea of what’s trending. It’s no coincidence that much of the recent social unrest started on social media before becoming a national issue.
The Trayvon Martin shooting trended on social media before news outlets reported on it. That incident might’ve just been a blurb had it not be for the efforts of social media in calling attention to the controversy.
However, I feel the seeds of this bitterness were planted long ago, before many of these protestors were even born. The presidential election in 2008 brought many of these issues to light.
As you mentioned the election of Barack Obama as President was a historic moment in American History, filled with beautiful imagery as you described. However before that election we began to see the ugly head of racism begin to emerge.
Before President Obama was elected president there was a significant amount of people who began suspecting that he was the Anti-Christ, a biblical figure predicted to bring about the end of the world as we know it via a world war known as Armageddon (I’ve always found it insulting that while Jesus is often portrayed as white, despite being described otherwise in the Bible, people would think that the Antichrist would obviously be darker complexioned, but I digress). Over six years into his Presidency let’s pause to reflect on how ridiculous this sounds.
Why would this presidential candidate be considered such a diabolical figure? What’s so different about him when compared to other presidential candidates of recent history? Conservative media fed into that hyperbole, exacerbated it with their coverage and, as politicians are wont to do, they too fed into it and began slinging mud to appeal to their voting base.
One group that people didn’t account for was the youth. Especially the black youth. The 18-year-olds who will be voting for the first time in 2016 will have spent their entire adolescence with just a black President. For those of us in our late 20s and up we can recall other presidents having an impact in our lifetimes, but for the youth, President Obama is all they know. It is this group, teenagers and young adults in their early 20s that have been most vocal of all, especially when they learn the cold truth of race in America.
Newton’s third law of motion states ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’ and when it comes to the bitterness you see today, that holds true. For years people have bit their tongue as they experienced quiet indignities and now they feel empowered to speak out against it thanks to social media and it’s ability to bring people together.
However there’s an interesting caveat, as cause and effect is dependent upon the observer. The effect of one cause can lead to a second cause and effect cycle, where the effect becomes the cause of another effect. This cycle can continue indefinitely, and that is the cycle I believe we are currently tied in (or have been since the beginning of time). Having given this much thought, I think the reality is that we are doomed to this cycle until we exhaust this energy, and that only until both sides have laid waste to each other will we finally survey the damage and attempt to listen to one another on a level that benefits humanity.