We Are Better Than This

We Are Better Than This

We are no doubt in a time where evil has been on the rise, public discourse has turned hostile, demagoguery appears to be a winning recipe for political office, and the divides among demographics in our melting pot are as pronounced as I can remember in all of my thirty-nine years.

The recent tragic hate crimes and attacks on our nation’s politicians are, sadly, not new phenomena. What does feel different, however, is how accepted these acts are (often viewed as our “new norm”) by so many who have retreated to their tribal clans at the peril of our society at large. We have allowed our politics and innate compulsion to bind to our cultural groups, while excluding others, to cause our interpersonal/intercultural relations to either stagnate or regress. However, I’m reluctant to buy into the dismal notion that this is who we are, that perhaps we haven’t made as much progress as some of us thought. 

We are a young relatively nation compared to many countries throughout the world. We have come from a period at the inception of this country that legalized slavery to now having had our first Black president. We have progressed from a nation that denied women the right to vote, to electing women to many of the highest offices in the land. We have grown from a country that denied Blacks and Hispanics adequate housing, employment, and educational opportunities to one in which young people of color graduate from prestigious colleges and go on to occupy high-level positions in distinguished companies. I could provide countless more examples to substantiate the progress we’ve made, but this is not necessary — the historical evidence speaks for itself.

The fact of the matter is that what we are currently seeing is a mere reflection of today’s political and social climate. Did you get that? Today. While it is unquestionably problematic, it is a snapshot in time — the peak of the current inflammatory political climate — and not reflective of how amazing, loving, compassionate, and truly genuine the majority of Americans are. 

America’s true nature is especially on display when natural disasters strike and rip through our communities. What we inevitably see are Americans dropping everything to come to their neighbors’ aid. We see people rallying together, raising money, collecting clothing, and feeding those in need. This is who we are, and reflective of how far we’ve come. This is not to whitewash or downplay hate crimes that continue to pervade our communities, exacerbating already strained race relations. Having said that, it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge the steady stream of progress made over our country’s nearly 250 year history. We should not become prisoners of the moment by allowing what has happened in a matter of several months — or even several years — to represent what and who we are as a people, as a society. That is neither rational nor accurate. It would be no more accurate than to point to a temporary bad period in someone’s life (for whatever reason), as indicative of who they are. An objective judgement is based on how far someone has come in relation to where they started. Looking at America in this context, it is readily apparent how far we’ve come.

I sympathize with all those who are utterly disheartened by a rash of crimes committed in the name of hatred. I understand why many feel angry, depressed, and disgusted by a climate of tribalism. But we must remember that this is a moment in time in the grand scope of our societal evolution. Our focus ought to be on the overall progress made; and the historical evidence that shows we are better than this.

We All Matter

This is an email I received from our remarkable friend Jacob, incarcerated in Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex. Jacob is organizing an inmate fundraiser, to help us pay for our new website after we lost our funding.


Oddly, America, and I suppose humanity as a whole has a long history of allowing our diversity to cause divisiveness.

When the English first began settling here, they persecuted and slaughtered innumerable Native Americans. Then as more Europeans came, the divisiveness continued as the Irish, German, Italian and others were designated as less than because they were different.

The era of slavery, which many of us (myself included) imagine as ending after the civil war, took on many more sinister faces.

One startling example is the Black Codes, which were enacted by the southern states post war, and required freed “blacks” to have a written verification of employment every year, else they were arrested for vagrancy, and rented out to the highest labor contractor. Then, since they were not slaves which required food and health to be useful, they would work them to death, or beat them brutally and leave them to die.

blackcode-the-fight-over-reconstruction-6-728

This provoked the Reconstruction Era, and brought about the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to our constitution.

However, the horrors persisted through the 1960’s when the civil rights movement gave a minor reprieve… Which brought about the creation of our modern prison industrial complex. Devastation to communities torn asunder by the incarceration of their (for the most part) men, fatherless children, families without providers…and then the return of men damaged beyond repair by their incarceration experience. Men who further burdened their communities by the cruelty they often had to embrace in order to survive inside.

Our diversity in here has caused divisiveness, historically. Whites v Blacks, Latino v Latino…and all of us against the guards, as well as society.

We are all human. We are all citizens of America. We all matter. We all have much more in common than we do differences.

Yes, my dear friend, you and I know this truth, but how do we get that message to the people that do not know?

When I get out, I intend to do public speaking and one of my key goals will be to raise awareness about the continued value of every man, woman, and child. Free or incarcerated.

An Open Letter To Survivors of Gun Violence

An Open Letter To Survivors of Gun Violence

Our hearts are saddened. I know this event just happened and you’re trying to make sense of it. You can’t. Crazy people have been doing senseless stuff like this since time began. Whether it was the Romans massacring Jewish people or terrorists flying planes in buildings, they want attention and to force their opinions or religious beliefs on the rest of us.

My heart goes out to you and I cannot fathom the living hell and agony you are experiencing.

It is a sad fact that bad things happen to good people, and no matter what laws are in place you cannot prevent every crazy person from getting their hands on weapons. Yes as I watch the news, I know the attacker’s name. I will never say it because he sought attention for himself and his cause. Do not make him immortal in the annals of history. It is only a minor victory when you refuse to say the name of a attacker like this. Sometimes little victories are the only ones we can create.

Tragedies like this are twofold as we will be soon at each others throats over who’s fault it is and how can we prevent this from happening again. This is a sad fact. We want somebody to hurt as bad as we hurt. We want somebody to pay for making us fearful and for showing just how fragile life is. When we have no one to punish, we turn on each other. We verbally attack somebody who thinks differently then we do. We miss the irony that it was a difference in opinions on how people should live that caused a crazy person to attack to begin with.

We as a society try to create something positive out of something negative. Sometimes it’s just not possible. I hope I am wrong in this case.

It is my hope the two major political parties will take the high ground and not try to make the victims suffer more by using them and their families as political props.

We live in a world where terrible things happen. The best we can do is to be a light in somebody’s darkness.

Blessed be.