I’ve loved that song by Chicago since I sprouted musical ears. Plus the first few notes is the only thing I can play on a piano. A writing mentor of mine who was just ducky gave me this piece of advice a while back: stick to family and friends and music in your blogs and stay away from politics and you will be fine. He also knows I am the least likely to take advice from anyone. For the record, I plan on staying firmly planted in 2016. My Dr. Who Traveling Tardis is tarnished right now and I refuse to jump into yours. So no, I won’t time travel with you back to 1963 or 1865. Race relations in my world in 2016 are just fine and all I have to do is look around my living room or board meetings to gauge that. In my sometimes humble opinion that is all anyone should be doing. Want to improve race relations in your world? Don’t raise bigoted, prejudiced children for starters. Sow the seeds of tolerance in your own backyard and pretty soon there won’t be any more backyards with the weeds of the woefully ignorant. Yes there are killings going on now and the media is focusing solely on the racial impetus of them. But when have there not been? There have been murders for passion or prejudice or poison for centuries using guns and knives and muskets and hanging rope and if you go back far enough even nails and crosses and stones. Today’s episodes are not indicative of any escalation of racial issues in this country. They really are not and don’t let the media con you into believing they are please.
I don’t have a problem really if I run into an 85 year old bigot. Who cares really at this point but I do care if I run into a 20 year old one. My sons call me prejudiced on a regular basis. Yes their rabid liberal, flower power toting, peace at all costs, no such thing as Lee Harvey Oswald mother they think is prejudiced against African Americans. O and while we are at it, that’s a term I find really annoying. If I can be called white, why can’t a black person be called black. I really don’t want to be called an Italian American or a Caucasian American. It all takes way too much time to say. It makes me happy actually that my sons are calling ME a racist. It means their tolerance level is just fine. My living room floor on a Saturday morning is always filled with all sorts of colorful kids and when I am telling one of their black friends he’s an idiot wrapped in a moron for chewing gum and throwing it on my floor my kids immediately scream prejudice. Really? Well as I tell them all the time and the several football folks who have a habit of calling me prejudiced every time I try to enforce a rule they don’t like: I am prejudiced against one thing and one thing only- STUPID and LAZY and that comes in ALL colors. So here’s how it works kids: lose the behavior, lose the label.
I’m not sure I made any conscious effort with my kids to make sure they aren’t prejudiced against people because of race or color or gender or bad taste in music. Well maybe bad taste in music. I did make them prejudiced against really annoying people though, so I guess as soon as they become a protected class we are in trouble. I think it takes more of an effort to MAKE a child prejudiced than it does to make them NOT prejudiced actually.
I’m not sure my parents made any effort with me in instilling or not instilling prejudice. If they did I am reasonably sure I thought for myself at some point in time. My mother came from a tiny town in Italy to the Bronx when she was 33 with me as a 3 year old . Quite a change. Our neighborhood back then was all Italians and Irish. There was literally one black family and one black boy in our Catholic school. How he got there is still a mystery. My mother never even saw a black person until she came to America and this was the early 60s and so her perspective was from the TV of that time. She was never truly prejudiced though in the traditional “they are inferior to me” way that we often see it. She was simply afraid because of the sensationalized portrayal in the papers and media of crimes at that time. I remember before she died she used to come out every year from the Bronx to Torrance and spend a month or so with us when my kids were little. We used to walk up to the Target with the kids in the carriage and there were apartment buildings we passed on the way on Van Ness. People would be outside doing things as we walked by and they would say hello to us and they were often black. One of the first times my mother experienced this she turned to me and said with such a smile on her face. “Black people out here are so nice!”. Yeah Ma, that’s why I moved from New York. She didn’t mean any malice by it. On the contrary, she had the biggest heart ever. It was just a reflection of her long instilled fear and acknowledgement that perhaps that fear was unfounded. I still chuckle at that one. My Dad was here since he was 16 and he is the one that taught me STUPID prejudice so I don’t recall him being a bigot of any type regarding race or color either.
That’s my point really. Ignorance in and of itself is not dangerous. There are a lot of nice folks around who will never pick up a book to get information from but who won’t cause you any harm either. You may not want to discuss Shakespeare’s sonnets with them, but hey mug of beer every now and then is just fine. Arrogance also in and of itself is not a horrific thing either, especially if they are giving you some magnificent piece of art or music or literature or comedy. What is the most dangerous and frightening of all though is ignorance mixed with arrogance. That is the root of much of the turmoil we see today in the world and a prerequisite for working at Fox News.
As for random killings I think this generation of teens and 20 somethings will eradicate them in the future. They are just too damn preoccupied with that phone of theirs. I am sure there will be a KILL APP where as long as you don’t appear on the phone screen in front of them while they are in a rage you will be fine. If you do, they’ll just virtually kill you and you’ll be marked with invisible infrared ink on your head and no one else can virtually kill you again. I’m sure that counts for my one allotted digression.
There is no sense taking me to task because I refuse to be all upset and crazy about what’s going in the world today. My 19 year old said something to me the other day as we were debating and discussing how my generation screwed up the place, hence the apathy and scorn from his generation, and I was going on about his generation’s lack of work ethic and sense of immediacy about anything. He said Ma, it’s OK, when I’m old like you, I’ll think my kid’s generation is all messed up too. How true is that! I think all we can do really is make our little piece of the world happier one smile and one laugh at time. I try everyday and I will never apologize for being as happy as I am right now. Well other than crying babies. There I said it. I can’t stand crying babies on a plane. Seriously, why am I the only one who can seem to get your kid to stop crying on that plane. It takes a damn set of keys and a game of peek-a-boo not a production of Cabaret. Ok well two digressions today.
Bottom line? The only way to change the world is to change your small corner of it and that’s with action and people and words and reading and writing not hand wringing and staring at a TV screen.
POST SCRIPT: The Grammar and Spell Check on my computer are going to make me insane. It has absolutely no idea how to write properly. Some of the things it comes up that it deems wrong and the corrections are just plain crazy. We should be able to pick versions of our Grammar and Spell Check just like we do software. I would like to be able to pick say 1975 Catholic School Grammar and Spell Check and not the 2015 Who Cares How a Sentence is Formed California Public School version. That is why I will just continue to use my real live writing polisher for the task. O but don’t blame him for anything incorrect in this one as he had no time to polish this week.